Steel tubes 0.76 meters wide, arrived at the site on Tuesday, are being pushed through a rubble opening, excavated with the help of hydraulic jacks to safely remove workers, trapped since Sunday, when a part of the road under construction collapsed in the mountainous state of Uttarakhand.
The situation is testing the patience of family members, who are frustrated and angry with the news that some workers are falling ill.
Magistrate Abhishek Ruhela said some workers sent messages saying they were suffering from fever, body aches and nervousness. Medicines have been sent through tubes previously installed to bring water and food to workers.
Two of the workers, mostly migrants from various parts of India, also suffered minor injuries due to falling debris.
Around 200 people participate in the operation, in which drilling equipment and excavators are used.
State government official Gaurav Singh said the rescue operation was delayed due to a technical fault in the drilling machine, adding that a new machine had already been installed.
Falling debris also delayed the start of drilling on Tuesday. “These are challenges that arise in this type of relief operations, but we will overcome them”, said an official from the disaster management agency Ranjit Sinha.
A landslide on Sunday caused part of the 4.5 kilometer tunnel to collapse, around 200 meters from the entrance.
Uttarakhand is a mountainous state, with several Hindu temples that attract many pilgrims and tourists and the construction of highways and buildings has been constant to respond to an increasing flow of visitors.
The tunnel is part of the busy Chardham Road, a flagship federal project linking several Hindu pilgrimage sites.