Shimla: Rescue workers failed to reach the three labourers trapped since Saturday in an under-construction tunnel in the town of Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh, officials said.
The Border Roads Organisation, which operates under the defence ministry that has been involved in the construction of the Rohtang tunnel, was deployed for the rescue operation.
“The continuous rolling down of debris from the hilltop is hampering the rescue operation,” National Highways Authority of India project director Satish Kaul told reporters.
“We are trying to insert a pipe into the debris so that the struck workers could be safely evacuated,” Kaul said.
Rescue workers are hopeful that the trapped workers are alive as machines have been deployed to pump oxygen into the tunnel.
The tunnel, which is part of the under-construction four-laning of the Kiratpur-Manali national highway, is located at Tihra, 13 km from district headquarters Bilaspur and 100 km from the state capital.
Workers involved in the construction work blamed the Himalayan Construction Company for lack of safety measures. All the trapped workers belonged to the hill state.
“For the past few days, huge cracks and fissures surfaced in a rock inside the tunnel. The company had been ignoring it and it is due to its negligence that the accident occurred,” one of the survivors told police.
The cave-in took place around 8.30 pm on Saturday when the night shift workers were coming to work. The first shift was over at 8 pm, said officials.
The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s underground transit venture, planned an unveiling of its first tunnel Tuesday, two years after the billionaire entrepreneur complained about Los Angeles traffic and vowed to “just start digging” as a remedy.
Musk has advertised his 2-mile (3.2 km) tunnel as the first step toward developing a high-speed subterranean network for whisking vehicles and pedestrians below the congested streets of the second-largest city in the United States.
The tunnel, an initial proof-of-concept, has been excavated along a path that runs not through Los Angeles but beneath the tiny adjacent municipality of Hawthorne, where Musk’s Boring Company and his SpaceX rocket firm are headquartered.
In a tweet earlier this month, Musk said the big reveal would include “autonomous transport cars & ground to tunnel elevator cars.”
Boring’s website describes a system of passenger- and automobile-carrying “skates” that can zip through the tunnels by way of electric power once they are lowered underground from street level.
Musk, best known as head of the Tesla Inc electric car manufacturer and energy company, launched his foray into public transit after complaining in December 2016 that L.A.’s traffic was “driving me nuts,” promising then to “build a boring machine and just start digging.”
In May, the company gave the world a preview of the first tunnel, posting a fast-forward video of the interior shot by a camera traveling the length of the cylindrical passageway, which measures about 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter.
Musk also created a stir by promising free trips through the tunnel once it opened — “like a weird little Disney ride in L.A.” — to get public feedback before proceeding with a larger system.
It remained doubtful, however, whether permits Musk received to dig what was then billed as an experimental tunnel would allow the public inside.
“There will be no cars or people in the research tunnel,” according to the minutes of a special Hawthorne City Council meeting in August 2017 to review an easement for the project.
On its website, the Boring company said that “due to unbelievably high demand, tours through the Hawthorne test tunnel are by invitation only.”
If successful, the Hawthorne tunnel is envisioned as eventually connecting to a network of other tunnels, yet to be approved or built.
Last month, the Boring Company scrapped plans for a slightly longer 2.7-mile segment under a West Los Angeles neighborhood, settling litigation brought by community groups opposed to that project.
But Musk’s company announced it was moving ahead with a proposed tunnel across town to connect Dodger Stadium, home of the city’s Major League Baseball team, to the existing subway line.
In June, Boring was selected by the city of Chicago to build a 17-mile underground transit system linking that city’s downtown to O’Hare International Airport. The company also has proposed an East Coast Loop that would run from Washington, D.C., out to the Maryland suburbs. (VOA)