Rescuers make visual contact with 41 workers trapped in collapsed tunnel in India
Food, medicines being piped to workers trapped since Nov. 12 in India's Uttarakhand state
Authorities in the Indian Himalayan state of Uttarakhand on Tuesday for the first time released visuals of the 41 workers trapped in an under-construction mine for over a week now as rescue efforts are underway.
A massive operation was launched in the state’s Uttarkashi district on Nov. 12 when the under-construction Silkyara Tunnel collapsed and trapped the workers.
For the first time, the workers trapped inside the tunnel were talked to through an endoscopic flexi camera and inquired about their well-being, the state's top elected official Pushkar Singh Dhami wrote on X on Tuesday morning.
He said all of them are completely safe, adding: “We are trying with all our might to get them out safely soon.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi again spoke to Dhami on Tuesday to get an update about the ongoing relief and rescue operations.
“The prime minister was informed about the successful construction of a 6-inch diameter pipeline across the debris and the delivery of food and other essential items to the workers through it,” Dhami said.
On Monday, authorities managed to push another pipeline through which cooked food items, medicines, and other goods are being sent to the workers.
The under-construction tunnel was being built for a national highway that will be part of the Char Dham Hindu pilgrimage route — one of the most ambitious projects of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government. The Indian government has said the construction would ensure all-weather connectivity and cut the journey's length down by 25.6 kilometers (15.9 miles), particularly in snow-affected regions.
After a big drilling machine developed a snag last Friday, rescuers are exploring multiple plans to rescue the workers, including drilling vertically from the top of the mountain.
National Disaster Response Force, Uttarakhand’s State Disaster Response Force, and international disaster experts are currently involved in rescue work.
Indian Air Force and railways are being roped in to transport heavy machinery from several parts of the country.