NEW DELHI: A large drilling machine used to help rescue 41 workers trapped for weeks in a partially collapsed tunnel in India has broken, reported dpa news.

They are likely to be rescued by Christmas, Arnold Dix, an Australian specialist involved in the rescue work, told Indian television station NDTV on Sunday.

The workers, who were building a motorway tunnel, have been trapped for two weeks after the 4.5-kilometres structure partially collapsed on November 12 after a landslide close to the town of Uttarkashi.

Volunteers had been using the drill to push a pipe into the rubble through which those trapped could get out.

The machine advanced several dozen metres but repeatedly hit obstacles such as steel parts and broken machinery and can no longer be repaired, said Dix.

Now, the plan for the drilling is for volunteers to enter the pipe pushed into the mountain one at a time and use tools to work their way forward towards the men who are trapped. Efforts are also to be made to drill vertically into the mountain to reach the men.

The workers are being given food, water, oxygen and medication via narrow pipes. They are also to receive a telephone connection to keep in touch with their waiting relatives, according to reports.

The chief minister of the affected Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, recently said the men were doing well.

The tunnel was being constructed to improve transport links in the region which is popular among pilgrims and tourists due to its many Hindu temples. - Bernama, dpa

Clickable Image
Clickable Image
Clickable Image