Published1 day ago
Efforts to rescue 40 workers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in northern India have been expanded to include drilling down from the mountain top.
A platform is being prepared to place the drilling machine at the site in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.
Another bid to reach the workers will also be made from the mouth of the tunnel. Three attempts to drill through the debris there have failed so far.
Part of the tunnel under construction caved in after a landslide last Sunday.
Contact with the men has been established and they are being provided oxygen and food.
Explaining the latest rescue attempt on Saturday, Uttarkashi’s District Forest Officer DP Baluni said: “A spot right above the tunnel has been identified and marked. A hole will be drilled from there.”
A digger has been brought to build a flat surface for the drilling machinery.
The commander leading federal rescue teams, Maj Naman Narula, said he hoped to have the platform built by Sunday. The depth of the hole is expected to be between 300 and 350 feet (90-105m), he added.
Officials say that if everything goes to plan, the rescue could another take four or five days.
Also on Saturday. there was an angry confrontation between rescue officials and colleagues and friends of the trapped workers.
Tensions ran high as officials were challenged about the lack of progress. One man cried out: “It’s been seven days and my brother is trapped in there.”
Rescuers responded by saying they were spending sleepless nights to reach the workers. One official said the boys in the tunnel were like his own children: “I go to my bunk at night and cry as well. I can’t cry in front of you otherwise you will lose hope.”
The Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district is part of the federal government’s ambitious highway project to improve links with famous pilgrimage spots in Uttarakhand.
The mountainous state, where several Himalayan peaks and glaciers are located, is home to some of the holiest sites for Hindus.
A nearby landslide caused heavy debris to fall on the tunnel, leading to the collapse of a section about 200m from the entrance.
A water pipeline set up for construction work is now being used to supply oxygen, food and water to those still inside.