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Asked to keep our clothes ready: Workers’ families

It seems the long wait will be over on Tuesday, said Chaudhry, hoping that rescuers drilling through the rubble at the partially collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi will within a few hours reach his son and the other 40 workers trapped inside it for over two weeks.

IMAGE: Heavy machinery sits outside the tunnel during rescue operations where construction workers got trapped in the tunnel’s collapse in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

Raising hopes was the news that rescuers were drilling close to the breakthrough point of 57 metres, behind which are the workers.

The horizontal drilling through the rubble has progressed to 55.3 metres, officials said.

Earlier in the day, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had said pipes have been inserted up to 52 metres through the rubble at the tunnel.

Through these pipes, each 800 mm wide, the trapped workers will crawl out.

Waiting at the tunnel site to see his 22-year-old son Manjit, Chaudhry, a resident of Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh, said, “Officials have told us evacuation of workers is likely. We have been asked to keep our clothes and belongings ready.”

 

On whether he will be taken along with his son after rescue to the hospital, Chaudhry said doctors will go in the ambulances. “But we have been told arrangements will be made for us wherever they are taken after evacuation,” he said

Unlike earlier, on Tuesday, Chaudhry had a smile on his face while speaking to reporters.

The information being given raises hopes of an early evacuation, he said on the 17th day of the rescue operations. Chaudhry had lost his elder son a few years back.

Trapped worker Gabbar Singh’s elder brother Jaimal Singh said he cannot express his feelings at the moment.

“Even, nature looks cheerful today. A cool wind has stirred up the leaves and trees. The weather is good. We are hopeful. We have been asked to keep our belongings rolled up and wait for further instructions,” he said.

“We have been waiting outside for them and they (trapped workers) have been struggling. Let’s hope all that ends soon,” he said.

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