Uttarakhand tunnel collapse: First images emerge of trapped Indian workers

A camera has captured images of the 41 workers trapped in a tunnel in India's Uttarakhand state for the first time in 10 days. Photo: Uttarakhand Chief Minister

The first images of 41 workers trapped in a tunnel after a part of it collapsed ten days ago in India’s Uttarkashi have been released by authorities.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday shared the images of the workers on social media.

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“For the first time, a picture has been received of workers trapped in the tunnel under construction in Silkyara, Uttarkashi. All the labour brothers are completely safe, we are trying with all our might to get them out safely soon,” Mr Dhami said on X.

The images were taken using an endoscopic camera that was inserted into the tunnel through the six-inch wide pipe that was inserted through the rubble on Monday in what authorities called a major “breakthrough”.

The emergency services also spoke to the workers through a walkie-talkie.

Mr Dhami also shared a video of a worker picking up the camera from the pipe and showing his colleagues.

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The rescue workers were heard identifying themselves and boosting their morale.

“Please pick the camera and show us around … please smile and don’t panic. We will rescue you all,” an emergency worker is heard saying in the video.

Authorities are contemplating sending mobile phones inside the tunnel so the workers could speak with their families.

Earlier, the communication was happening through a small pipe that was also being used to provide packaged food.

Part of the 4.5km Silkyara tunnel collapsed on November 12, trapping the workers.

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Emergency teams have since been trying to drill up to 60 metres through the debris and insert a 90cm wide pipe that would allow the workers to crawl out.

The development comes after emergency workers had to stop the rescue operation briefly to figure out a new strategy after attempts to drill through the rubble to insert the pipe hit a roadblock late on Saturday.

Rescuers have been drilling horizontally through the debris using an American-made auger machine but a cracking sound was heard, forcing operations to pause.

The drilling work is yet to resume.

Uttarakhand HC has given the government of Narendra Modi 48 hours to issue a response regarding what measures have been taken to rescue the 41 workers trapped in the rubble of the tunnel collapse in Uttarkashi.

The tunnel was to be built to connect two Hindu shrines in the Uttarkashi and Yamunotri districts.

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