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After spending nine days in tunnel, two workers rescued in HP's Bilaspur

New Delhi: Two of the three labourers, trapped in an underground tunnel for nine days in Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur, were rescued on Monday. One worker is still to be traced.Satish Tomar and Mani Ram were
India TV News Desk September 21, 2015 18:05 IST
India TV News Desk

New Delhi: Two of the three labourers, trapped in an underground tunnel for nine days in Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur, were rescued on Monday. One worker is still to be traced.

Satish Tomar and Mani Ram were brought out by a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team around 4:30pm. Search for the third worker Hirday Ram was still on who could not be traced.

His fate is uncertain since there has been no contact with him so far.

"We have rescued two of the three workers who were trapped in the tunnel for over a week. Beginning this morning our teams have also begun a horizontal drilling operation to see through the debris and find the third worker whom we suspect is trapped somewhere there," NDRF Director General O P Singh said.

Visuals emerging from the spot showed the rescuers flashing the victory sign and screaming in jubilation after the two were brought out from the narrow and dark tunnel.

Both the workers had been in regular touch with the rescuers through a microphone linked with a cam.

The miraculous and fine rescue operation by the men of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) came a day after incessant rains lashed the accident spot and a snag developed in the heavy drilling rig that was drilling through to rescue the trapped.

A vertical shaft of 42 metres beneath the ground was dug to rescue the workers.

On September 12, three workers of the Himalayan Construction Company were trapped inside tunnel No 4 of Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project near Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh after a cave-in blocked the entrance with tonnes of earth and boulders.

A project worth Rs 82 crore had been dug 275 metres when it collapsed 80 metres from the mouth.

“We have rescued two of the three workers who were trapped in the tunnel for over a week. Beginning this morning our teams have also begun a horizontal drilling operation to see through the debris and find the third worker whom we suspect is trapped somewhere there,” NDRF Director General O P Singh, who is monitoring the rescue operation from New Delhi, told PTI.

However, there has been no communication with the third worker identified as Hriday Ram.The NDRF commander at the spot said the two men who were rescued were in “good health”.

The flawless rescue operation by the men of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) came a day after incessant rains lashed the mishap site and a snag developed in the heavy rig that was drilling through to rescue the trapped.

The workers were trapped inside tunnel No 4 ofKiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane project near Bilaspur when a portion of it collapsed on September 12.  The drilling of 1.2 m diameter tunnel to reach the trapped persons was almost complete and less than 1 m of drilling was left when the heavy drilling rig developed a snag last night, warranting replacement of a part of the drill and the operations were suspended.

The rescuers, earlier, had also established communication with two of the three trapped labourers through digital cameras and microphones after hours of digging.  

A 45-member NDRF team, with three specially chosen men in the lead, have been working in the operation for days now.  Food and water had been supplied to the trapped workers through a 47 m and 4-inch diameter bore.  O P Singh said the biggest challenge for his rescue team was to effectively tackle loose rocks and seepage that was occuring in the narrow approach to the main part of the tunnel.

“It was a very risky and long operation as our rescuers were totally exposed to loose rocks. We later used casing pipes to thwart this problem but it could only be done for a small length. The boys did a great job under challenging circumstances,” he said.

“It was a tough operation as when we went down the tunnel in the first attempt it was not adequate. We are now looking for the third person and our operation is going on,” an NDRF commander at the spot said.

Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner Manasi Sahay, also present on the spot, said the operation was not yet over as the teams were looking for the third person.

“Why should I lose hope? We are trying our best to locate and rescue the third worker,” she told reporters.


(With PTI inputs)