Officials trying new methods to rescue workers trapped by collapsed tunnel

Issues with a drilling machine have halted the rescue mission, and officials are now forced to find 'new angles' to extract the trapped workers eight days on.

Officials trying new methods to rescue workers trapped by collapsed tunnel
Security personnel and others are seen near the entrance to the site of an under-construction road tunnel that collapsed in mountainous Uttarakhand state, India, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Rescuers supplied food and medicine to 40 construction workers on Thursday as officials started drilling through the rubble to reach the men who have been trapped since a portion of the tunnel they were working on collapsed over the weekend. (AP Photo)
The workers have been trapped for eight days now (Picture: AP)

Officials are considering alternate rescue plans to save the 41 workers still trapped in a collapsed tunnel in India.

Issues with a drilling machine have halted the rescue mission, and officials are now forced to find ‘new angles’ to extract the trapped workers eight days on.

Deepa Gaur, a government spokesperson, said the new methods could include using a new drill from the top of the hill, under which the workers have been trapped inside the collapsed tunnel.

The construction workers have been trapped since November 12, when a landslide caused a portion of the nearly three mile tunnel they were building in Uttarakhand to collapse near the entrance.

The tunnel they were building is meant to be part of the busy Chardham all-weather road, which will connect various Hindu pilgrimage sites across the mountainous state which attracts many pilgrims and tourists.

epa10978428 Indian workers look on as rescue workers continue to operate at the site of an under-construction tunnel following a collapse, on the Brahmakhal Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarkashi, India, 16 November 2023. Rescue and relief operations were underway after 40 workers have been trapped following the tunnel's partial collapse on 12 November 2023. According to Secretary Disaster Management Ranjit Kumar Sinha, food and oxygen were being supplied via pipes inserted through the rubble. EPA/ABHYUDAYA KOTNALA
The families have been worried sick about their loved ones (Picture: EPA)
Rescuers use a digger to make a path at the top of the mountain as part of an alternate plan to reach the workers trapped in a tunnel after a portion of it collapsed, in Uttarkashi in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, November 18, 2023. REUTERS/Saurabh Sharma NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Drills have been used to dig from the top of the hill down to the workers (Picture: Reuters)

About 200 disaster relief personnel have been at the site using drilling equipment and excavators in the rescue operation, but drilling stopped on Saturday when experts became concerned the drilling machine’s high-intensity vibrations could cause more debris to fall and hinder efforts.

Experts said drilling vertically from the top of the hill could also cause additional debris, but they will use a unique method which will see less debris falling.

This method, experts hope, would lead to less debris falling.

Vijay Singh, an official at the control room, said the rescue mission has installed a pipe to served the trapped workers nuts, roasted chickpeas, popcorn, and other essential items – including oxygen.

But families are growing frustrated on day eight of the rescue mission, including Maharaj Singh Negi, whose brother Gabbar Singh is trapped.

‘I am losing my patience. The officials have not even briefed us about the future plans,’ he said.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.