Over 500 rescue workers are engaged in a race against time to rescue the workers trapped in a 1.6-km long debris-filled tunnel at Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.
Over 34 workers are believed to be trapped in the tunnel, battling hypothermia - a dangerous drop in the body temperature - as well as declining oxygen levels.
The conditions in the area remain chilly (6-7 degree Celsius), and the slush-filled tunnel is likely to be even colder.
The personnel have dug up close to 120 m of the 1.6-km long tunnel. A major challenge continues in the form of rising levels of water and slush which forced to workers to retreat. The slush is continuously flowing into the tunnel as the ITBP personnel are trying to remove it.
“There is an opening on top of the tunnel where workers are believed to be stuck. We are hoping that there are adequate levels of oxygen so that the workers can survive,” an ITBP official was quoted as saying by TOI.
Reportedly, the attempts to send drones inside the tunnel have failed. A ray of hope is that the slush inside may have subsided at the corner where the tunnel takes a 90 degree turn.
“The rescue teams are working round the clock and tirelessly to save the trapped workers. However, our immediate concern is about the workers getting hypothermia,” said Vivek Pandey, the spokesperson for ITBP.
The Indian Army personnel used to go down the other end of the tunnel with the help of ropes to see if there were any bodies stuck under the grille, but nothing was found.
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