Stuck in a tunnel for over 60 hours, a labourer from Uttarakhand managed to speak to his son for a few seconds on Tuesday. In a testament to the man’s mental strength, he assured his son that there was no cause for worry and said that he has been helping the 39 others, who are trapped with him, keep their morale up.
Gabbar Singh Negi from Kotdwar is among 40 people who are trapped in the under-construction tunnel that collapsed on the Char Dham route in Uttarakhand early on Sunday morning. Speaking to NDTV on Tuesday, Mr Negi’s son, Akash, said he managed to talk to his father through the pipe that has been installed to ensure that oxygen reaches the trapped labourers.
“My father works as a supervisor. I spoke to him today. He said he is helping everyone keep their morale high and asked me to tell everyone at home not to worry. My father said no one has been injured and they are getting adequate food and water. The engineers tell me they will be rescued in a few hours. I am hoping that will happen,” Akash said in Hindi.
Mr Negi’s elder brother, Maharaj, who was also at the site, said his brother has been with the company, which is involved in the construction of the tunnel, for over 22 years.
“My brother has a lot of experience and that is one of the reasons that the labourers who are with him are safe. The officials of the company said a pipe is being used to give food, water and tea to them,” said Maharaj.
A portion of the 4.5-km tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, which is meant to join Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi, collapsed early on Sunday morning. The tunnel is part of the Char Dham project.
Officials said the workers have been trapped in a buffer zone and have space to move around. “They have a buffer of around 400 metres to walk and breathe,” a disaster response official said.
Most of the trapped labourers are migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Himachal Pradesh.