Big Drill's Big Hope: Indian Rescuers Aim to Reach 40 Trapped in Tunnel

Big Drill's Big Hope: Indian Rescuers Aim to Reach 40 Trapped in Tunnel

LUCKNOW - Rescue operations in the northern Indian mountains are intensifying as authorities mobilize a heavy drilling machine to aid in reaching 40 road workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel for over three days.

The workers, engaged in the Char Dham highway project, remain safe, receiving provisions through a communication pipe. Hindered by massive boulders, rescue teams anticipate breakthrough with the arrival of a high-powered augur drilling machine airlifted from New Delhi, about 400 km away. The machine, currently being assembled at the nearest helipad, aims to penetrate the debris obstructing the escape route.

The tunnel collapse occurred during the night shift with up to 60 men present; those closer to the tunnel's end escaped, while 40 remained trapped deeper inside. The Char Dham highway, a significant venture under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, seeks to connect four Hindu pilgrimage sites over 890 km at a cost of $1.5 billion.

Criticized by environmental experts, the project faced setbacks, including subsidence-related damage to hundreds of houses, leading to temporary halts.

The urgency of the rescue mission is underscored by footage from ANI news agency, revealing the frustration of about a dozen workers outside the tunnel, demanding swift efforts to rescue their colleagues.

Geologically vulnerable, the Himalayan region experiences landslides, earthquakes, and floods, with concerns raised about the impact of rapid construction on slopes. Initiated in 2018, the tunnel project was initially slated for completion by July 2022 but faced delays, with the collapse occurring months before the revised May 2023 deadline.

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