40 workers have been trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in India for over a week and 3 attempts to drill through the debris have failed so far

  • A partial tunnel collapse in the Indian state of Uttarakhand has left 40 workers trapped for a week.
  • Multiple efforts to drill through the debris to reach the workers have failed.
  • Rescuers have been able to send the workers radios, food, water, and oxygen through a pipe.


Rescuers have been working for over a week to extricate 40 workers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in northern India, and are now shifting strategies following three failed attempts to drill through the debris.

The tunnel partially collapsed on November 12 after a landslide in the state of Uttarakhand. Rescue crews have been able to send radios, food, water, and oxygen to the workers through a pipe, according to The New York Times.

Rescuers have now made three attempts to drill through the debris to reach the workers from various angles, but all have failed, the BBC reported on Sunday. Officials told reporters the land around the tunnel was fragile, and drilling could risk more debris falling.

“We have decided to go with a pause-and-go approach to maintain the equilibrium,” Anshu Manish Khalkho, director of state-run highway management company, said Friday, according to CNN. “It may look easy from the outside, but on-site we have to factor in the effects of the drilling vibrations on the fragile terrain.”


uttarakhand india tunnel collapse

Rescue workers gather at the site after a tunnel collapsed in the Uttarkashi district of India’s Uttarakhand state.

AFP via Getty Images

Officials have now identified a spot directly above the tunnel that rescuers will attempt to drill through, and workers are preparing a platform for the drilling machine. The officials told reporters the rescue could take an additional four or five days, according to the BBC.

One doctor on the site, who has been speaking with the trapped workers, said some of them have developed concerning symptoms such as headaches and vomiting.

“They are suffering from anxiety and gastritis. We sent medicines, dry fruits, chickpeas, and puffed rice,” Dr. B.S. Pokriyal told CNN. “They kept asking us to get them out fast, so I spent some time counseling and motivating them.”

Pokriyal added that the men have about 0.6 miles of space within the tunnel to walk around.


Before the landslide, the trapped workers had been building part of a national highway project intended to facilitate pilgrimages to the major Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand.

This post was originally published on Insider

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