DEHRADUN- On Tuesday, workers tried to build new passageways to free 41 Indian workers who had been trapped in a collapsed road tunnel for 10 days. They were first captured alive on camera.
One of the suggested routes is more than a quarter mile long and almost half kilometer long.
The men could be seen peering at the endoscopic camera that rescuers had sent down the thin pipe that is being used to send air, food, and water while sporting an exhausted and anxious appearance and thick beards.
In a video that state authorities have released, rescuers can be heard telling the helmet-wearing men trapped inside,” We will bring you out safely, do not worry.”
Since November 12, when a section of the tunnel collapsed, excavators have been removing tons of dirt, concrete, and rubble from the under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand, in the northern Himalayas.
The air force had to twice airlift in new equipment due to slow rescue efforts brought on by falling debris and repeated breakdowns of important heavy drilling machines.
” TOP PRIORITY.”
Rescuers had been using radios to communicate with the men inside before the camera was installed.
Pushkar Singh Dhami, the chief minister of Uttarakhand, declared in a statement that” all the workers are completely safe.” ” We’re doing everything we can to get them out quickly and safely.”
Dhami claimed to have discussed the men with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who added that getting the workers out must be their” top priority.”
Engineers had been attempting to horizontally push a steel pipe through at least 57 meters ( 187 feet ) of rock and earth that would obstruct the men’s escape.
However, the enormous earth-boring machine they were employing collided with impassable boulders.
A cracking sound caused a “panic situation,” according to officials, so drilling on that route was stopped on Friday.
Two new strategies for reaching the men are currently being prepared by rescue teams.
For the heavy equipment required, workers are being forced to cut a completely new track to the top of the forested hill above, where they are drilling vertical shafts.
According to officials, the proposed vertical shaft would need to be 89 meters ( 291 feet ) deep, which would require a potentially difficult dig above the men in an already collapsed area.
According to Indian media reports, the other approach requires traveling more than 450 meters on the opposite side of the road tunnel.
The camera was sent down through a 15-centimeter ( six-inch ) pipe that was successfully installed on Monday to widen the tube used to deliver supplies to the men.
To assess the stability of the area where the men are trapped, it is hoped that a drone can also be sent down.
For the first time, hot meals were also delivered via the brand-new pipe.
Top local civil servant Abhishek Ruhela told AFP that” we have sent 24 bottles with meals and bananas to the trapped workers.”
In Uttarakhand, where significant portions of the state are prone to landslides, experts have issued warnings about the effects of extensive construction.
The 4.5-kilometer tunnel is a part of Modi’s infrastructure initiatives to speed up access to key areas bordering China and shorten travel times between some of the most well-known Hindu sites in the nation.
Arnold Dix, the president of the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association, an Australian independent disaster investigator, has been among the foreign experts enlisted.
Dix stated to the Press Trust of India news agency,” Those 41 men are coming home.” ” Exactly when?” I’m not sure.