Since last Sunday, when some of the tunnel the workers were in collapsed, excavators have been removing dirt, concrete, and debris from the under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand, a state in the northern Himalayas.
The air force has had to twice airlift in new equipment due to persistent falling debris and repeated breakdowns of the essential heavy drilling machines, which have slowed down rescue efforts.
Late on Friday, drilling through the tons of debris was stopped due to a “panic situation,” according to officials.
The government’s highways and infrastructure company, NHIDCL, then announced that operations might “further collapse.”
Speaking to the men over the radio, the trapped people’s relatives reported that the situation was dire and that morale was low.
One relative told reporters late on Saturday without revealing their identity,” They are in tears… they have started asking us if we are lying about the rescue efforts being made to save them.”
Bring those 41 men home, please.
Engineers had been attempting to horizontally push a steel pipe through the debris that was nearly three feet wide and 90 centimeters wide, allowing the trapped men to squeeze through as they became more and more desperate.
Teams were now considering digging a completely new shaft, including from above, according to senior government official Bhaskar Khulbe, who was involved in the rescue operations.
Late on Saturday, Khulbe stated that” we are looking into all options to save the workers.” ” Resources, options, and methods are not in short supply.”
Without providing any additional information, Khulbe stated that the rescuers anticipated a time frame of” a maximum of four to five days” to free the men.
As an alternative exit, “preparations to drill a vertical hole from the top of the hill” had started, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
Additionally, Indian rescuers issue a 48-hour warning regarding the release of trapped workers.
A picture of an excavator beginning to remove soil from the forested hilltop high above the tunnel was published in Indian media.
Food, water, oxygen, and medicine have also been delivered to the trapped workers via a 15-centimeter-wide ( six-inch ) pipe in addition to radio communication between rescuers and them.
Arnold Dix, a tunnel expert and president of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, was asked to assist and is currently traveling to India.
Dix told India Today that” we are currently debating our options for the safe rescue of these men.”
In Uttarakhand, where significant portions of the state are prone to landslides, experts have issued warnings about the effects of extensive construction.
Although the tunnel was located in “one of the most difficult areas,” Dix was certain they would be saved.
He declared,” We’re going to bring those 41 men home.”