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Rescuers dig to reach 40 workers trapped in collapsed road tunnel in northern India

Rescuers dig through dirt and parts of a collapsed road tunnel to reach 40 workers trapped by a landslide in northern India.


November 12, 2023, 11:55 p.m.

This photo provided by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) shows rescuers outside a collapsed road tunnel where more than 30 workers were trapped by a landslide in the north in the state of Uttarakhand, India, on Sunday, November 12, 2023. (SDRF via AP)

The Associated Press

LUCKNOW, India — Rescuers were digging through the earth and parts of a collapsed road tunnel on Monday to reach 40 workers trapped by a landslide on a construction project in northern India.

All construction workers are safe, police officer Prashant Kumar said, adding that they have been provided with oxygen and water. He said rescuers had established contact with the trapped individuals.

The collapse occurred Sunday in Uttarakhand, a mountainous state dotted with Hindu temples that attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

Massive construction of buildings and roads has taken place in recent years in Uttarakhand. The trapped workers were constructing part of the Chardham all-weather road, a flagship project of the federal government linking various Hindu pilgrimage sites.

The number of trapped workers was confirmed on Monday by Rajesh Pawar, project manager at Navyug Construction Company, which is overseeing the construction of the tunnel.

Rescue efforts began Sunday, with authorities pumping oxygen through a hose into the collapsed section of the tunnel to help workers breathe.

“The team has progressed 15 meters (yards) into the tunnel, with another 35 meters (yards) to go,” Kumar said, adding that more than 150 rescuers used drilling equipment and excavators to clear the debris overnight.

The collapsed part of the 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) tunnel is about 200 meters (500 feet) from the entrance, officials told the Press Trust of India news agency.

In January, authorities in Uttarakhand state moved hundreds of people to temporary shelters after a temple collapsed and cracks appeared in more than 600 homes due to land subsidence in and around the town of Joshimath in the region.

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