41 people are trapped in a tunnel that collapsed last Sunday in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in northern India. The rescue operation has been ongoing for several days. On Friday, there was a machine failure and the action was suspended. An alternative action plan was developed. – The new plan calls for simultaneous vertical drilling from the top of the mountain and from the side. A team of experts conducted geological research that helped identify four points in the mountains where vertical drilling is possible, said the commander of the operation.
The concrete vault of a road tunnel under construction collapsed on Sunday morning, November 12, in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. India. All workers in the tunnel survived the disaster uninjured, and water and food were delivered to them. But on Tuesday, officials in the nearby city of Uttarkashi reported that some workers were complaining of fever and that two workers were injured when debris fell on them.
The trapped workers have light, and through a special pipe they receive oxygen, food, water and medicine. They can also communicate via radio.
Alternative action plan
The rescue team drilled horizontally through the rubble of the collapsed tunnel to reach trapped workers. However, on Friday the drilling machine broke down and a new one was brought on Saturday.
Rescuers trying to reach the men trapped for almost a week began working Saturday on an alternative plan.
– The new plan calls for simultaneous vertical drilling from the top of the mountain and from the side. A team of experts conducted geological surveys that helped identify four points in the mountains where vertical drilling is possible. Drilling remains suspended for now and “it will take another four or five days to get the good news,” said Bhaskar Khulbe, an officer on special duty on the tunnel project.
The region is vulnerable to earthquakes and floods
Authorities did not say what caused the 4.5-kilometer tunnel to collapse, but the region is prone to landslides, earthquakes and floods.
The disaster management office has revised the number of people trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand state since Sunday morning from 40 to 41.
On Saturday, nearly 100 tunnel workers gathered at the site, demanding faster access to the trapped people and their release. Vishnu Sahu, a worker leading the protest, said the rescue team did not inform workers about the pace of progress of the rescue operation. – We want the company’s best employees to come here, Sahu said.
“Insulting a local deity”
The Times of India website reports that the local population views the rescuers’ efforts pessimistically. According to local residents, the disaster was caused by an insult to a local deity, whose shrine was removed to make more room for the construction team. Priest Prasad Bijalwan told the portal that no one was hurt as long as the shrine stood and workers worshiped the deity when entering the tunnel. “The rescue operation will not be successful until a new shrine is built,” he said.
Main photo source: ABHYUDAYA KOTNALA/EPA/PAP