International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association president Arnold Dix, who has been roped in as part of the ongoing rescue efforts at the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse site, on Tuesday said he was sure that the 41 trapped workers would come home soon.
Speaking to ANI, from the site of the tunnel Professor Dix said the rescuers have several options to bring home the workers.
"I think the team here have done a wonderful job. It's just fantastic. The 900 pipeline is one of the options. The 900 pipe which is there, which I've seen, and I'm going to go have another look at this morning. It's by far the best and fastest means to get the men, but it has its technical difficulties and that's why we're doing multiple rescue missions," Dix told ANI.
"We've got mission from the top, missions from the front, mission from the side. The men are coming home. We're just not sure which door they're going to use...Maybe that will work. We're knocking on the top door. We're knocking on all these doors. Which one opens? Not sure," he added.
He said two locations have been identified for the vertical drilling, and both are on the Silkyara side of the high-altitude under-construction tunnel.
Professor Dix who is considered a leading expert in underground tunnelling is confident that all 41 workers will be rescued.
“We're going to rescue these men. When I arrived here, I said, 41 men is coming home and there's no one else going to be hurt" Professor Dix said.
"And everyone here from the government agencies, that's what they're working on. And I am convinced, and all the agencies are here, they're working closely together and the mission is clear" Dix added.
Earlier today, rescuers managed to insert an endoscopy camera into the tunnel and the first visuals captured showed the 41 workers had ample space inside the tunnel for them to move about.
Visuals of workers trapped inside Uttarkashi's Silkyara tunnel for the past 10 days emerged on Tuesday morning, has given new hope to worried relatives, some of whom are camping outside the site of the collapsed tunnel structure.
"Of course, the news we've had over the last few hours, it's great to see the faces of those men that we're going to bring home. We've got, of course, better food going to them now. We've got communications going to them now. You'll see this morning that we've got multiple approaches for the rescue. It's a good morning when you are going to start the vertical drilling from the top height of the tunnel. So that will start once the site's prepared," Dix noted.
The collapse occurred on November 12 during the construction of a tunnel from Silkyara to Barkot, trapping 41 labourers due to a muck fall in a 60-meter stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel. The workers are believed to be trapped in a 2 km-built tunnel portion, complete with concrete work that provides safety. This portion of the tunnel has access to electricity and water.
Multiple agencies are working on the rescue efforts with the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) teams continuing the drilling effort from the mouth of the tunnel. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) is working on another vertical pipeline for the supply of essential items.
The Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) has brought a heavy drilling machine and is now at the tunnel site to begin the vertical drilling operation.