India: 41 workers trapped in collapsed road tunnel for seventh day

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Rescuers are working into their seventh day to save 41 people who are trapped under a collapsed road in India.

A landslide on Sunday caused a portion of a 4.5km tunnel in Uttarkashi, northern India, to collapse about 200m from the entrance.

The construction of the tunnel is part of a flagship federal government project connecting various Hindu pilgrimage sites.

On Saturday, a new drilling machine arrived to replace the first one rescuers used which became damaged, with officials blaming it on the hard rock formation in the region.

The number of trapped workers has also been revised up from 40, according to Anshu Manish, a director at the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation.

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Contact established with trapped workers

Rescuers have drilled around 24 metres into the rubble since starting on Thursday, with one official saying they may need up to 60 metres cleared to allow those trapped to escape.

On Saturday, experts met to discuss other methods of rescuing those trapped under the tunnel, amid worries the drilling machine’s high-intensity vibrations could cause more problems.

They had hoped to complete the drilling by Friday evening to create an escape tunnel, but efforts were hampered when a loud crack was heard from within the tunnel.

Families of those trapped have shared their frustration and anger, with one man telling the Associated Press he had hoped to see his 20-year-old nephew by Friday.

Krishna Patel said: “The administration keeps changing the timeline for when they may be rescued. It’s very frustrating.”

Earlier in the week, some of the workers reported falling ill, but officials said on Saturday there had been no deterioration in their conditions since then.

Small food such as nuts, chickpeas, and popcorn are being sent down a pipe to the workers every two hours and there are two doctors in regular contact with those at the site.

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