SILKYARA, India, Nov 21 (Reuters) – The first images of 41 men trapped for more than a week in a road tunnel in the Indian Himalayas were released on Tuesday, showing them standing in a confined space and communicating with rescuers.
The men have been stuck in the 4.5 km (3 mile) tunnel in Uttarakhand state since it collapsed early on November 12 and are safe, authorities said, with access to the light, oxygen, food, water and medicine.
They did not specify the cause of the collapse, but the region is prone to landslides, earthquakes and floods. Efforts to get the 41 men out have been slowed by difficulties encountered drilling for debris in the mountainous terrain.
A 30-second video provided by authorities showed a dozen trapped men standing in a semicircle in front of the camera, wearing construction worker helmets and jackets over their clothes, against a backdrop of lights in the tunnel.
Outside, a paramedic could be heard telling the men to come forward one by one on camera, to confirm their identities on the walkie-talkie that had been sent.
The video was shot using a medical endoscopy camera that was pushed through a second, wider pipeline, 6 inches in diameter, drilled through the debris on Monday, authorities said.
In the video, the trapped men appeared to be fine, responding that they were fine in response to questions about their well-being, said a rescue control room official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Rescuers are expected to resume drilling horizontally through a 60-meter (195-foot) pile of debris on Tuesday to push it through a pipe large enough for the trapped men to crawl out.
Drilling was suspended on Friday after a machine problem and fears of a new collapse.
Authorities are simultaneously working on five other plans to remove workers, including vertical drilling from the mountaintop.
Abhishek Sharma, a psychiatrist sent to the site by the state government, said he had asked the 41 men to walk around the 2 km (1.2 mile) area where they are confined, do exercises light yoga and talking to each other regularly to stay safe. busy.
“Sleep is very important to them… and so far they are sleeping well and have not reported any difficulty sleeping,” Sharma told Reuters, adding that the men were in good spirits and eager to go out soon .
Another doctor there, Prem Pokhriyal, said the men had been asked to avoid intense workouts that could cause carbon dioxide to build up in the confined space when they exhale.
The trapped men are low-wage workers, mostly from India’s poor northern and eastern states.
“He said he was fine,” Sunita Hembrom, the sister-in-law of one of the workers trapped in the tunnel, Surendra Kisko, told reporters after speaking to him.
“He said, ‘Take care of yourselves, the kids and the parents. Just tell us what they’re doing to get us out of here.'”
Reporting by Saurabh Sharma in Silkyara; Written by YP Rajesh; Editing by Clarence Fernandez
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