CHANDIGARH: Two of the three workers who were trapped in a collapsed under-construction Bilaspur tunnel in Himachal Pradesh were rescued amid scenes of jubilation on Monday after nine days, while another labourer is still missing.
A National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team safely evacuated the two labourers from the rubble of the 1.2-km proposed tunnel, part of the Kiratpur-Manali expressway road project.
The workers were extricated amid cheers as rescuers penetrated the tunnel roof to pull out the trapped men stuck there for over 200 hours. Both the rescued, identified as Mani Ram of Kerari village in Mandi district and Satish Tomar of Taru village in Sirmaur district, were in regular touch with the rescue personnel through a microphone linked to webcam.
The battered men were provided dry fruits and glucose after their rescue. However, the whereabouts of the third worker, Hirdya Ram, are still unknown. “We have successfully rescued two men. The NDRF men are going into the tunnel again to search for the third worker. The operation is not over for us. We are hopeful,” Bilaspur Deputy Commissioner Manasi Sahay Thakur said.
A snag in a drilling machine had hampered evacuation process on Sunday and a 42-m tall shaft beneath the ground was dug through which two NDRF personnel climbed down using a rope. “Both Mani Ram and Satish Tomar are doing fine. They have been admitted to the Bilaspur district hospital for medical examination,” Jaideep Singh, commanding officer of the National Disaster Response Force, said.
Rescue teams maintained caution due to the region’s risky topography that could have triggered landslides. The NDRF team’s attempt to rescue the trapped workers last week had failed. A 50-odd member team comprising engineers, technical staff and geologists drilled the shaft through the mountain for five days to reach the workers.
Expressing satisfaction over the successful operations, Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh said rescue efforts would continue until the missing worker was brought to safety.