India tunnel collapse traps dozens for more than a week. What we know

Indian authorities are working to rescue dozens of construction workers who have been trapped in a tunnel collapse in the northern state of Uttarakhand for more than a week.

The workers were building a highway tunnel in the mountainous region last Sunday when it collapsed. Indian officials said all workers are safe and are being supplied with food and water, but attempts to rescue them so far have not yet succeeded.

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A heavy machinery works at the the entrance to the site of an under-construction road tunnel that collapsed in mountainous Uttarakhand state, India, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (AP Photo).

Uttarakhand is dotted with Hindu temples, and highway and building construction has been constant to accommodate the influx of pilgrims and tourists. The tunnel is part of the Chardham all-weather road, a flagship federal project connecting various Hindu pilgrimage sites.

About 200 disaster relief personnel have been at the site using drilling equipment and excavators in the rescue operation.

The horizontal drilling effort involved a machine breaking through rocks and debris to create a space to insert pipes through which the trapped workers could crawl out, but it was halted after the machine was damaged. The machine’s high-intensity vibrations also caused more debris to fall.

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Drilling vertically from the top of the hill could also cause debris, but officials said they would use a technique designed for unstable ground.

The rescuers will need to dig 103 meters (338 feet) to reach the trapped workers — nearly double than if they carried on digging from the front.

Officials said the efforts to reach the workers from the horizontal tunnel would continue.

— With files from Associated Press

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