Rescue efforts to free 41 workers trapped in a highway tunnel in the Indian Himalayas for two weeks face further challenges as the heavy drill machine used to break through debris was damaged. The machine needs to be pulled out entirely, and rescuers are now considering manual drilling for the last 10 meters of debris. The workers have been stuck in the 4.5-km tunnel in Uttarakhand since it caved in on November 12. While the workers are reported to be safe with access to necessities, the damaged machine has hindered the drilling process, prompting consideration of manual efforts for the final stretch. The cause of the tunnel collapse has not been disclosed, but the region is susceptible to natural disasters like landslides and earthquakes. The tunnel lacks an emergency exit, raising concerns about its construction through a geological fault.
The rescue plan involves pushing a pipe wide enough to pull the trapped workers out on wheeled stretchers. Additionally, a second plan involving vertical drilling from atop the hill is being pursued. Authorities are providing food to the trapped workers, and doctors, including psychiatrists, are on-site monitoring their health. The collapse occurred on the Char Dham pilgrimage route, a significant project aimed at connecting four key Hindu pilgrimage sites with a two-lane road.