Indian rescue workers have made contact with about 40 workers trapped in a tunnel collapse in Uttarakhand state and confirmed that all of them are safe, officials have said.
“All the 40 workers trapped inside the tunnel are safe,” Karamveer Singh Bhandari, a senior commander in the National Disaster Response Force, said in a statement on Monday. “We sent them water and food.”
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The initial contact was made via a note on a scrap of paper, but later rescuers managed to connect using radio handsets.
The tunnel collapse occurred early on Sunday morning during a shift change at the construction site of the Yamunotri national highway.
Local media reported that nearly 200 metres (14.8 feet) of the tunnel, which will connect the Hindu shrines of Uttarkashi and Yamunotri, appeared to have caved in.
Photographs released by government rescue teams over the weekend showed huge piles of concrete blocking the tunnel, with twisted metal bars protruding in front of the rubble.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said authorities were working to remove concrete debris in order to get the workers free.
“Contact has been made with the workers trapped in the tunnel through a walkie-talkie,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “Efforts are being made to get them out safely soon.”
Authorities began their rescue efforts on Sunday, pumping oxygen into the collapsed section of the tunnel to help workers breathe.
Accidents on large infrastructure projects are not uncommon in India.
In January, Indian authorities evacuated hundreds of people from their homes in Joshimath, also located in Uttarakhand state, after buildings in the area popular with pilgrims and tourists developed cracks.