DEHRADUN, India: Rescue workers in India said on Wednesday they have dispatched medication to 40 men trapped following the collapse of the road tunnel they were building.
The intense efforts to liberate them entered a fourth day.
Excavators have been clearing debris since Sunday morning from the site in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand to establish an escape tunnel for the workers, all of whom are still alive.
“After consulting with doctors, medicine has been delivered to the workers through pipes,” police officer Prashant Kumar told AFP, from the site. “Contact is being maintained with the workers.”
No specifics were provided as to how many of the men were sick or their condition.
Food and oxygen had also been sent down the pipe to the men, he further said.
But as rescue teams removed the vast piles of debris, more fell from the broken roof of the tunnel, and two labourers engaged in removing the debris were injured overnight, he added.
Photographs released by government rescue teams immediately after the collapse showed extensive piles of rubble obstructing the wide tunnel, with twisted metal bars from the roof poking down in front of slabs of concrete.
Engineers are employing heavy machinery to advance a 90-centimeter-wide steel pipe through the debris, creating a passage wide enough for the trapped men to navigate. Gaurav Kumar, another rescue official, expressed optimism that, despite recent setbacks, the trapped workers would be liberated “soon.”
The 4.5-kilometer tunnel, linking the towns of Silkyara and Dandalgaon to connect Uttarkashi and Yamunotri, two revered Hindu shrines, is part of a road project spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The initiative aims to enhance travel conditions between prominent Hindu shrines and regions bordering China. Experts have raised concerns about the environmental impact of extensive construction in Uttarakhand, a region prone to landslides.
Incidents on major infrastructure projects are not uncommon in India. In January, a disaster struck ecologically fragile Uttarakhand, leading to flash floods that claimed the lives of at least 200 people. Experts partially attributed the catastrophe to excessive development in the area.