Workers stuck in a tunnel in India get hot meals as rescue operation continues – NBC4 Washington
The 41 construction workers who have been trapped in a collapsed tunnel in northern India for more than a week were given hot meals on Tuesday, provided to them through newly installed steel pipes, while rescuers worked on an alternative plan to dig vertically towards them.
The meals, consisting of rice and lentils, were sent through a 6-inch diameter tube that was pushed through the rubble late Monday, said Deepa Gaur, a government spokeswoman.
For the past nine days, workers survived on dry food sent through a narrower tube. They are supplied with oxygen through a separate tube.
Officials on Tuesday released a video, after pushing a camera through the tube, showing workers wearing construction hats moving around the blocked tunnel while communicating with rescuers on the ground through walkie-talkies. Their families’ anxiety and frustration increased as the rescue operation continued.
The tunnel collapsed in the state of Uttarakhand, a mountainous region that posed a challenge to the drilling machine, which broke down when rescuers tried to dig horizontally towards the trapped workers. The machine’s intense vibrations also caused more debris to fall, prompting officials to briefly suspend rescue efforts.
Currently, rescuers are creating an access road to the top of the hill where they will dig vertically. Officials said on Monday that it will take a few days to dig the tunnel from the vertical direction and debris may fall while digging. Rescue teams will need to dig 103 meters (338 feet) deep to reach the trapped workers, nearly twice the distance.
Authorities said they would also continue digging horizontally from the tunnel entrance towards the workers.
The workers have been trapped since November 12, when a landslide caused part of the 4.5-kilometre (2.8-mile) tunnel they were building to collapse about 200 meters (650 feet) from the entrance.
The state of Uttarakhand is dotted with Hindu temples, and highways and buildings have been continuously constructed to accommodate the influx of pilgrims and tourists. The tunnel is part of the Chardham All-Weather Route, a flagship federal project linking various Hindu pilgrimage sites.
About 200 disaster relief personnel are on site and using drilling equipment and excavators in the rescue operation.
(Tags for translation) India