Rescue work has had to be carried out in India to free 40 construction personnel trapped following a collapse in a 5km tunnel being driven in Uttarakhand. Located in the north of the country, the new tunnel is intended to form part of the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway.
The rescuers were able to contact the tunnel workers soon after the collapse, which happened on November 12th, trapping the construction workers inside. Air was pumped into the tunnel soon after the collapse and rescuers have pushed a steel tube into the rubble to provide air, water and food. Subsequent collapses and loose material have hampered the rescue however, delaying the insertion of a larger tube big enough to allow the workers to escape. Although those trapped have been supplied with food and water, some are now ill.
Around 20 of the workers in the tunnel at the time were close enough to the portal to able to escape but those further inside were trapped. The reasons for the collapse are now being investigated.
The topography of the area is very mountainous, which is why the tunnel is needed to form part of the highway route. The area is prone to earthquakes, landslides and flooding, which present major challenges for construction projects. The poor geology has likely contributed to the collapse although the reasons have yet to be determined fully.