On Wednesday, in India , rescue teams grappled with substantial obstacles while attempting to reach 40 Indian workers trapped in a collapsed highway tunnel. Officials reported that massive boulders were hindering efforts to create an evacuation passage, preventing the teams from accessing the site.
Despite this India tunnel collapse occurring three days ago, the trapped laborers remain safe and healthy, as per a statement from an official involved in the rescue operations. Since the incident on Sunday morning, the stranded men have been receiving sustenance, water, and oxygen through a pipe.
G.S. Naveen, the relief commissioner of Uttar Pradesh state, stated that a heavy machine from New Delhi is en route to facilitate the insertion of an evacuation pipe, as boulders are currently obstructing the existing one.
The tunnel, spanning 4.5 kilometers and located in Uttarakhand state, is part of the Char Dham Hindu pilgrimage route, a key project under Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Hindu nationalist government. Approximately 50-60 men were working the night shift when the collapse occurred, with reports indicating that those near the tunnel exit managed to escape, leaving 40 workers trapped further inside.
Char Dham highway
The Char Dham highway, a significant endeavor costing $1.5 billion, aims to connect four revered Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand through an 890-kilometer road network. However, the mountainous region’s susceptibility to landslides, earthquakes, and floods poses considerable challenges. The recent incident adds to concerns raised by geologists, residents, and officials, attributing instances of land subsidence to rapid construction in the mountains.
Environmental experts have directed criticism at the Char Dham project, leading to temporary halts due to damage to hundreds of houses caused by subsidence along the route. Initiated in 2018, the tunnel project, originally set for completion by July 2022, has now faced delays, pushing the expected completion date to May 2024, according to a government statement.