A multi-agency operation is being carried out to rescue 40 workers trapped inside a tunnel in Uttarakhand since yesterday morning.
An under-construction tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway in Uttarkashi district partially collapsed at around 5 am yesterday, leaving 40 workers trapped inside.
The rescue operations are being conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) and the police.
A senior official told NDTV that all 40 workers are safe and are being supplied food and oxygen through water pipelines. “Everyone is safe, we are in constant touch with the trapped workers,” said Prashant Kumar, Circle Officer, Uttarkashi.
Mr Kumar said that communication has been established with the trapped workers and they have been sent water and food items.
He said that 20 metres of the slab has been removed so far to open the tunnel and prepare an escape passage for the workers, and around 35 metres are still to be covered. “The team is removing the debris using excavators and other heavy machines,” Mr Kumar said.
Photographs and videos showed huge piles of concrete blocking the wide tunnel, with twisted metal bars on its broken roof poking down in front of the rubble.
The tunnel is meant to connect Silkyara to Dandalgaon in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi. It is being built under the Char Dham Road Project and aims to reduce the journey from Uttarkashi to Yamunotri Dham by 26 kilometres.
The workers trapped inside the tunnel are from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, officials said.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami today visited the site and reviewed the ongoing rescue operation. “NDRF and SDRF are at the spot. We pray to God for the safe return of everybody. We hope they will be rescued soon,” Mr Dhami said.