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Indian workers trapped in tunnel seen on camera

DEHRADUN, India (AFP)Forty-one Indian workers trapped in a collapsed road tunnel for 10 days were seen alive on camera for the first time Tuesday as workers attempted to create a new passageway to free them.

Looking exhausted and anxious, with thick beards, the men could be seen peering at the endoscopic camera sent by rescuers down the thin pipe through which air, food and water is being sent.

“We will bring you out safely, do not worry,” rescuers can be heard telling the helmet-wearing men trapped inside as they gather near the camera, video released by state authorities shows.

Rescue workers stand at an entrance of the under construction road tunnel, days after it collapsed in the Uttarkashi district of India’s Uttarakhand state on November 18, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

Excavators have been removing tonnes of earth, concrete and rubble from the under-construction tunnel in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand since November 12, after a portion of the tunnel collapsed.

This screen grab image provided by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) shows one of the 40 workers trapped inside a collapsed tunnel in Silkyara, in the northern Indian Uttarakhand state, India, Tuesday. PHOTO: AP

But rescue efforts have been slow, complicated by falling debris as well as repeated breakdowns of the crucial heavy drilling machines, with the Air Force having to twice airlift in new kit.

Before the camera was introduced, rescuers had been communicating with the men inside using radios.

“All the workers are completely safe”, Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said in a statement. “We are trying with all our might to get them out safely soon.”

Dhami said he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the men, saying Modi said it had to be their “top priority” to get the workers out.


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