Lucknow : Forty-one workers remained trapped in a collapsed road tunnel in northern India for a seventh day Saturday as a new drilling machine arrived on site to replace the damaged one.
The nature of the exceptionally hard rock formation in the area, coupled with the clearing of debris, damaged the original machine and paused rescue efforts on Friday, according to officials. This added a new challenge to the long-drawn rescue efforts.
The number of trapped workers was also revised to 41 from 40, said Anshu Manish, a director at the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, one of the agencies overseeing the rescue.
Authorities began drilling into the rubble and debris on Thursday and have so far covered a stretch of 24 metres (79 feet), said Devendra Patwal, a disaster management official. It may require up to 60 metres (197 feet) of drilling to enable the trapped workers’ escape, Patwal told.
Some of the workers felt fever and body aches Wednesday, but officials have said there has been no deterioration in their condition. Nuts, roasted chickpeas, popcorn, and medicine were sent to them via a pipe every two hours.
The rescue operation stretched into its seventh day, and the families of those trapped were frustrated and angry. Relatives from various states have spent nights near the tunnel, seeking updates. The recent setback has only exacerbated their worries.
The construction workers have been trapped since Sunday, when a landslide caused a portion of the 4.5-kilometre (2.8-mile) tunnel they were building to collapse about 200 metres (650 feet) from the entrance. The hilly area is prone to landslides and subsidence.