Rescue crews in the north of the India They provided food and medicine to 40 workers of construction on Thursday, as authorities began drilling through the rubble to reach the men, who are trapped since part of the tunnel they were working in collapsed over the weekend.
Rescuers planned to introduce wide steel tubes to create a passageway that would free the workers, trapped since early Sunday morning in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand. A new drilling machine was assembled after three Indian air force planes transported it in parts from New Delhi on Wednesday.
The American Auger machine will be used to drill a section of almost 45 meters (148 feet) and rescuers hope to reach trapped workers by Friday night or Saturday, said Devendra Patwal, a disaster relief official.
A machine used earlier this week proved slow to push pipes through debris, the state government said in a statement Wednesday.
“We hope that all the trapped people can be rescued in a day or two,” said Pushkar Singh Dhami, head of the state of Uttarakhand.
The workers are being providing nuts, peanuts, soaked and roasted chickpeas, popcorn and medicine every two hourssaid Devendra Patwal, disaster management relief official.
Some complained about fever and body aches on Wednesday, but his condition has not worsened, he said.
Yogesh, who goes by one name, interrupted his Diwali celebrations and ran towards the collapsed tunnel when he learned his brother was trapped. He spoke to Vishal, his brother, on Wednesday.
“He seemed tense, but said he was fine. He asked me about the rescue operation and I told him that it was ongoing,” Yogesh explained.
Anshu Manish Khalko, an official with the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation, said he expected the drilling operation to begin sometime on Thursday.
“Once operational, this machine will facilitate the creation of a escape tunnel quickly to guarantee the evacuation of the trapped workers,” he said.
On Wednesday, family and friends of the trapped workers gathered outside the tunnel and became increasingly frustrated and angry. The state government has been consulting the Indian Army and foreign experts on how to proceed with the rescue.