The first images of the 41 construction workers trapped inside the Indian Himalayas have been released, more than nine days after the crew became stuck behind a mountain of debris that trapped them in a collapsed tunnel.
Rescue crews were able to feed an endoscopic camera through a newly-created pipeline in the rubble to capture footage of the men, which was released Tuesday by the chief minister of Uttarakhand state.
सिलक्यारा, उत्तरकाशी में निर्माणाधीन सुरंग के अंदर फँसे श्रमिकों से पहली बार एंडोस्कोपिक फ्लेक्सी कैमरे के माध्यम से बातचीत कर उनका कुशलक्षेम पूछा गया। सभी श्रमिक बंधु पूरी तरह सुरक्षित हैं। pic.twitter.com/vcr28EHx8g
— Pushkar Singh Dhami (@pushkardhami) November 21, 2023
The video shows some of the trapped workers standing in the confined area, wearing hard hats and construction worker apparel over their clothes. A rescue worker can be heard asking the men to confirm their identities one by one and saying, "We will bring you out safely, do not worry," according to Al Jazeera. Workers obliged, some waving to the camera.
The tens of workers became trapped in the highway tunnel in the Himalayas on Nov. 12 when a landslide caused a portion of the 2.8-mile structure they were building to collapse. Hundreds of disaster relief and rescue personnel have been trying to get the men out since.
A narrower pipe drilled earlier into the rubble allowed rescuers to pump oxygen into the tunnel along with food, water and medication. And before the 6-inch pipeline allowed the camera through, the trapped men had been communicating with outside rescuers using radios.
Now this larger, steel pipe is also allowing hot meals of rice and lentils to be sent through the men, who have survived off of dry food sent through the smaller pipe over the last nine days.
But the rocky heap has continued to cause delays in the largest pipeline of all that they need to get the men out instead of supplies in.
Initial efforts to drill a wide enough opening were suspended after debris continued to fall and fears arose of the horizontal drilling potentially causing further collapses.
But rescuers are again trying to dig horizontally from the tunnel's opening toward the workers, and currently, other rescue crews are trying to dig from on top of the hill vertically down to the tunnel, a 338-feet distance that will take a couple of days and could cause more debris to come loose.
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