AFP news agency on November 21 reported that images of 41 Indian workers trapped in a tunnel that collapsed during construction were published for the first time since they were trapped on November 12.
Rescuers are currently looking to dig new tunnels for rescue, including a proposal for a tunnel nearly 500 meters long.
Looking exhausted, worried and with bushy beards, the workers peered into endoscopic cameras sent by rescuers down the small pipe that carries air, food and water.
The first images of 41 Indian workers trapped in a tunnel that collapsed deep underground
“We will get you out safely, don’t worry,” rescuers told workers wearing hard hats inside as they gathered near the camera, according to the video.
Excavators have removed tons of soil, concrete and rubble from a tunnel under construction in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, after part of the tunnel collapsed.
However, rescue efforts have been slow, complicated by falling debris as well as the continued breakdown of key heavy drilling machines. Before bringing the endoscopic camera inside, rescuers contacted the workers by radio.
“All workers are safe. We are trying our best to get them out safely as soon as possible,” according to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
Mr. Dhami said he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the trapped workers and the prime minister told him that getting the workers out should be the “top priority”.
Rescue teams are currently preparing two ways to reach the victims. One way is to drill a vertical shaft from the forested hill above, estimated to be 89 meters deep. The second way is to approach from the far side of the tunnel by digging a route more than 450 meters long.
The supply pipeline was also expanded to a diameter of 15 cm on November 20. Rescuers hope to move a drone in to check the stability inside. Hot food was also delivered the first time. A local official said 24 bottles of food and bananas were brought in.
Foreign experts came to research solutions, including independent Australian disaster investigator Arnold Dix, president of the International Tunneling and Space Association. Mr. Dix said “these 41 people will go home”, but did not estimate the exact time.