Rescue efforts underway to reach workers trapped in Indian tunnel

2015-09-21 14:15
(Filippo Monteforte, AFP)

(Filippo Monteforte, AFP)

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New Delhi - Rescuers were attempting on Monday to reach two labourers trapped underground after a tunnel collapsed in India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

The tunnel, which was being built as part of a highway in the Bilaspur region, caved in on September 12, blocking the entrance with earth and boulders, and trapping three workers.

Rescuers have been speaking to two of the workers through a microphone linked with a remote camera. The third victim's whereabouts were unknown.

Food and water were being delivered through a 47m shaft drilled into the tunnel four days ago. Rescue teams also dug a wider shaft to allow rescuers access to the tunnel.

"We have managed to drill a vertical shaft from the hilltop to the roof of the tunnel," National Disaster Response Force official Jaideep Singh said.

"Our teams are trying to penetrate into the tunnel in what should be the final phase of rescuing the workers," Singh said by phone from the site.

Senior disaster response official SS Guleria described it as a "complex and challenging" operation.

"Rescuers are operating in a confined space full of mud. Water up to three feet has accumulated in the tunnel, and the labourers are sitting in an elevated corner not very close to the shaft."

Family members of the trapped men were camping at the site, and cried when the drilling machine had problems at the weekend, broadcaster NDTV reported. As work resumed Monday morning, they were seen folding their hands in prayer.

Read more on:    india

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