Rescue workers dig to reach 40 workers trapped in a collapsed road tunnel in northern India

Rescuers dig through dirt and parts of a collapsed road tunnel to reach 40 workers trapped in a landslide in northern India.

LUCKNOW, India – Rescue workers dug through dirt and parts of a collapsed road tunnel on Monday to reach 40 workers trapped by a landslide at a construction project in northern India.

All the construction workers are safe, police officer Prashant Kumar said, adding that they have been provided with oxygen and water. He added that rescuers made contact with the trapped individuals.

The collapse occurred on Sunday in Uttarakhand, a mountainous state dotted with Hindu temples that attract many pilgrims and tourists.

Buildings and roads have been constructed on a large scale in recent years in Uttarakhand. The trapped workers were constructing a section of the all-weather Chardham Road, a major union government project linking various Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Rajesh Pawar, project manager at Navyug Construction Company, which is overseeing the construction of the tunnel, confirmed the number of trapped workers on Monday.

Rescue efforts began on Sunday, with authorities pumping oxygen through a tube into the collapsed part of the tunnel to help workers breathe.

“The team advanced 15 meters into the tunnel, and an additional 35 meters still have to be covered,” Kumar said, adding that more than 150 rescuers used drilling equipment and excavators to remove the rubble during the night.

Officials told the Press Trust of India that the collapsed section of the 4.5-kilometre-long tunnel was located about 200 meters (500 feet) from the entrance.

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In January, Uttarakhand state authorities moved hundreds of people to temporary shelters after a temple collapsed and more than 600 homes developed cracks due to sinking land in and around Joshimath town in the district.

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