Tunnel collapses in India and traps around 40 road workers

The construction workers have been trapped for more than 24 hours.

Tunnel collapses in India and traps around 40 road workers
This photo provided by Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) shows rescuers inside a collapsed road tunnel where more than 30 workers were trapped by a landslide in northern in Uttarakhand state, India, Sunday, Nov.12, 2023. ( SDRF via AP)
Around 200 metres of tunnel reportedly collapsed on Sunday morning (Credits: AP)

Dozens of workers have been trapped in a Himalayan road tunnel for more than 24 hours after it collapsed around them.

Rescuers say the people in the tunnel, located on the Yamunotri National Highway in India, have indicated they are safe and various supplies – including food, water and oxygen tanks – have been passed through to them.

There are differing reports on the number of people trapped, ranging from around 36 to more than 40 with no reported casualties.

Both the State and National Disaster Response Forces are involved in the rescue effort, while the government of the state of Uttarakhand is also providing assistance.

The collapse is believed to have taken place in the early hours of Sunday morning as construction workers built the tunnel linking Silkyara with Dandalgaon.

Local media reports said around 200 metres of the 2.8 mile tunnel had fallen in during work to link the areas of Silkyara and Dandalgaon.

At a press conference today, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said communication with the trapped workers had been established.

He added: ‘All of them are safe and I assure all the family members of the trapped people that they will be soon rescued from the tunnel.

‘Teams are present on the spot and rescue work is underway.’

News agency the Press Trust of India quoted a local police officer as saying they were ‘very optimistic’ the rescue operation would be a success, but added it was ‘difficult to say how long it will take’.

Pictures from the scene show a vast amount of rubble blocking the tunnel, with twisted metal cables protruding from the top.

According to local media, the collapse comes just six days after a fire broke out in a different tunnel being built for a railway project in a different part of Uttarakhand.

In that incident, the 40 workers on the site were evacuated safely and there were no injuries.

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