Rescuers in India faced an intense battle on Monday, struggling to free 41 men who remained trapped in a road tunnel for nine days. In light of failed attempts, plans were underway to excavate an entirely new shaft.
The tunnel forms part of Modi’s infrastructure initiative, intending to reduce travel duration between significant Hindu pilgrimage sites while enhancing access to strategic regions along the Chinese border.
Since November 12, these men have been stranded in Uttarakhand state, receiving sustenance through a pipe and reportedly in good condition. The cause of the incident remains uncertain, although the area is susceptible to landslides, earthquakes, and floods.
Excavation work has been ongoing in the under-construction tunnel, which encountered a collapse, leading to efforts to clear earth, concrete, and debris. Bhaskar Khulbe, overseeing the tunnel project, estimated another four to five days for potential positive outcomes from the rescue operations, which faced hindrances due to debris falls and multiple breakdowns of crucial heavy machinery, necessitating air force assistance.
Initially attempting to create a passageway wide enough for the trapped individuals, efforts faced a setback when a cracking sound prompted a pause in drilling on Friday.
Consequently, teams geared up to initiate a new shaft from above, requiring a fresh path to be carved through the forested hill to deploy necessary heavy equipment.
Environmental experts have cautioned against extensive construction in Uttarakhand, an area prone to landslides, emphasizing the ongoing efforts to extract the trapped workers.
Uttarakhand’s chief minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, assured on Monday that the individuals inside the tunnel were safe, underscoring the relentless endeavors to free them.