Indian worker caught on camera trapped in tunnel for 10 days

Indian rescue teams spent 11 days digging through two-thirds of the rubble to reach 41 workers trapped in a collapsed road tunnel, authorities said Wednesday.

“We are very happy to share that 39 meters (128 feet) of excavation has been completed,” said Mahmoud Ahmad, a Ministry of Roads and Highways official involved in the work.

Engineers were driving steel pipes into at least 57 meters of dirt and rock separating the trapped men from freedom.

Excavators have been removing tons of earth, concrete and debris from a tunnel under construction in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand since November 12, when part of the tunnel collapsed.

When an AFP reporter peered into the tunnel entrance on Wednesday, he could see sparks flying as workers welded sections of metal tube together, amid heavy traffic from excavators and large trucks.

“If there are no obstacles, we hope to have good news tonight or late tomorrow,” Ahmad told reporters at the scene.

“The fact that we are moving forward at a fast pace is very good news for us,” he added.

However, he cautioned that the remaining sections that have not yet been excavated are critical.

Rescue efforts have been slow, complicated by falling debris and repeated failures of key large excavators.

A giant earth excavator hit a rock last week, causing the roof to crack and drilling operations to be halted for more than three days.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday spoke of “positive progress made in the last 24 hours” without giving details.

However, the government statement also said that “the schedule provided is subject to change due to technical glitches, difficult Himalayan terrain or unforeseen emergencies.”

Blasting and excavation have also begun at the far end of the unfinished tunnel, which is about half a kilometer (more than a quarter of a mile) long, in case the route through the tunnel’s main entrance fails. A dangerous shaft has also been prepared directly above it.


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