Both auger machine & ‘rat-hole’ miners proved crucial for rescue op: Oz expert

  • | Thursday | 30th November, 2023

Dehradun / Silkyara: A day after the successful evacuation of 41 workers following a 17-day effort, Arnold Dix, president, Geneva-based International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, told TOI that while both the auger machine and rat-hole mining team played a pivotal role in rescuing the stranded men, rat-hole mining proved to be the most effective approach in handling formidable mountains like the Himalayas.In the final stages of the rescue, Dix exchanged his construction helmet with one of the rat-hole miners and carried it to the Baukhnaag temple set up outside the tunnel entrance as a symbol of good luck. He said, I just wanted to convey my gratitude to them.Dix, the worlds leading expert on underground tunnelling and issues associated with it from an operational safety perspective, arrived in Uttarkashi on November 20 and has been stationed at the site since then.Praising the work done by engineers and rescue personnel in safely bringing out trapped labourers, Dix told TOI, Ive never witnessed an incident where all trapped individuals were evacuated unharmed, especially considering the prolonged duration and challenging geographical conditions. This incident stands as an example of human willpower.Overwhelmed by the support for rescue teams, Dix said, Whether it was the unwavering determination of rescue teams, selfless support of volunteers or prayers of local villagers for strangers, such occurrences are quite extraordinary.Dix is now planning to return to Australia. He visited the temple outside the tunnel on Wednesday morning to pay obeisance. I had a pact with the mountain deities and now that they have fulfilled it by safely bringing out the workers, Ive come to say thanks, he said, adding that I can now return to my home in Monbulk town, Victoria, and repair my chicken fence.We also published the following articles recentlyRat-hole miners adept at burrowing small tunnelsA team of rat-hole miners, specialized in burrowing in small tunnels, has joined the operation to evacuate the 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. The miners, with a proven track record in excavating small tunnels for laying water pipelines, will dig through the debris to reach the trapped workers. Assisted by engineers from the army, the operation is meticulously planned and executed to ensure precision and safety.Uttarakhand tunnel rescue: Jhansi rat-hole miners begin operation to reach trapped 41 trapped workersUP miners from Jhansi join Indian Army in rescue mission to save trapped workers in Silkyara tunnel. Miners use their expertise to manually dig through remaining rubble. Excavation progress reaches nearly a meter in two hours. Plan B of vertical drilling also underway, with 36 meters drilled out of 86 meters. Operation temporarily halted due to auger drilling machine malfunction.Silkyara tunnel rescuers resort to traditional mining method: Rat-hole mining explainedA team of six rat-hole miners from UP joined the rescue operation to save 41 trapped workers inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. These miners, with their specialized tunneling skills, will manually dig their way to reach the workers. The miners have experience working inside smaller tunnels, so claustrophobia is not an issue. Rat-hole mining, a manual excavation method, is distinct from the rescue operation. Despite the ban, unauthorized rat-hole mining continues in Meghalaya.

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