The 41 workers who have been trapped in a collapsed tunnel in northern India for over a week are finally getting hot meals on Tuesday. The meals of rice and lentils are sent through a newly placed steel pipe as rescuers are working on a plan to dig them out vertically.
For the last nine days, the workers survived with dry food sent through a smaller pipe. They also received a supply of oxygen through another one.
Officials released a video on Tuesday showing the workers in their safety hats moving around the blocked tunnel. It also showed them communicating with rescuers on the ground through small radio equipment called walkie-talkies. Family members said they felt better after seeing images of their loved ones.
The tunnel collapsed in Uttarakhand state. It is a mountainous area that has been difficult for the drilling machine. It broke down as rescuers attempted to dig horizontally toward the trapped workers. Movement from the machine has also caused more rocks to fall. After more rocks fell, officials suspended rescue operations for a moment.
Currently, rescuers are creating a path to the top of the hill from where they will dig vertically. Officials said Monday that from the vertical direction, drilling to the tunnel will take a few days and rocks could fall during the digging. Rescue teams will need to dig 103 meters downwards to reach the trapped workers, nearly double the distance.
Officials said they would also continue digging horizontally from the mouth of the tunnel toward the workers.
The workers have been trapped since November 12. A landslide may have caused part of the tunnel they were building to collapse 200 meters from the opening.
Mahmood Ahmed is head of the state-run National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation. He said, "We might be able to get a breakthrough in the next 30-40 hours.”
I’m Gregory Stachel.
The Associated Press reported this story. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
tunnel – n. a passage that goes under the ground or through a hill
vertical – adj. positioned up and down rather than from side to side: going straight up
drill – n. a tool used for making holes in hard substances
horizontally – adj. positioned from side to side rather than up and down: parallel to the ground
landslide – n. a large mass of rocks and earth that suddenly and quickly moves down the side of a mountain or hill
breakthrough – n. a person's first important success