It might take 48 hours to save the workers trapped in an Indian tunnelIndian Tunnel


On November 15, Indian rescuers reported dispatching medicine to 40 trapped men as the arduous efforts to free them entered the fourth day. (Photo by AFP)

Indian rescue teams cautioned on Friday that it might take an additional two days of debris removal before they can access 40 workers who have been trapped in a collapsed tunnel for nearly a week.

Since Sunday morning, excavators have been diligently clearing rubble to establish an escape route for the workers following the collapse of a section of the tunnel they were constructing in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

The ongoing falling debris has hampered rescue operations, slowing progress.

Facing issues with an earth-boring drill, the Air Force took action on Wednesday by airlifting a second drilling machine via a C-130 Hercules military plane. The enormous drill bit extended much of the length of the aircraft’s cargo hold.

Engineers are working to advance a steel pipe approximately 90 centimeters (almost three feet) wide through the debris, creating a passage wide enough for the trapped men to navigate.

As of Thursday night, only 18 meters (60 feet) of the pipe had been inserted into the debris with the assistance of the new machine.

“If the work continues at this rate, it will take another 40-48 hours to rescue the workers,” rescue leader Deepak Patil said Friday morning.

As rescuers work against the clock to save the trapped men, India has sought advice from the Thai company that successfully rescued children from a flooded cave in 2018, along with consulting engineering experts specializing in soil and rock mechanics at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

Communication with the trapped men has been maintained through the use of radios.

Essential supplies, including food, water, oxygen, and medicine, have been delivered to the stranded workers through a six-inch-wide (15-centimeter) pipe.

While there are no official details about the men’s condition, local media reports suggest that some are experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, anxiety, and stomach problems.

A six-bed field hospital has been established outside the site, with ambulances ready to transfer serious cases to a proper hospital.

The 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) tunnel, designed to link the towns of Silkyara and Dandalgaon, connecting Uttarkashi and Yamunotri—two of the holiest Hindu shrines—was under construction when the incident occurred.


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