Shimla: In a fight between life and death, two of the three construction workers - trapped inside a partially collapsed under-construction tunnel in Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur from past nine days – on Monday successfully saw the daylight. However, the whereabouts of the third worker is still not known yet.
After over 200 hours of their ordeal, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) today managed to evacuate two trapped workers. The rescuers had earlier managed to penetrate the roof of the tunnel and were able to come closer to them.
While confirming the news, commanding officer of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Jaideep Singh said, "We managed to evacuate Mani Ram and Satish Tomar, who were stuck in the caved-in tunnel since September 21. Both are fine and hospitalised in the Bilaspur district hospital for examination."
In a quick reaction over the success in the tunnel mishap, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh expressed his satisfaction to extricate the employees trapped in the tunnel and said that while the two employees - Satish Tomar and Mani Ram - have been rescued, the operation to trace the third employee will continue.
"Relieved that two workers have been rescued, operation will not stop till the third worker is found," ANI quoted Virbhadra as saying.
"I hope and pray to almighty about the well being and safety of Hriday Ram, who is still missing," he said.
He further said the Border Road Organization, State Disaster Management Authority, the district administration, National Disaster Response Force and all other involved in relief and rescue operations deserve appreciation for their relentless efforts despite hostile weather conditions.
"It was not an easy task and the work had to be carried out scientifically and technically so that no further harm was done to those trapped inside," he said, adding that the rescue teams and even the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police had camped at the site to monitor the operations.
He said that such incidents were very rare and it was unfortunate that the tunnel caved in unexpectedly trapping them inside and to leave them to undergo a never-ending ordeal for almost nine days.
"It will be ensured that such an incident does not occur in the future," he said, adding that all the safety measures had to be adopted by the construction companies before undertaking big hydel, tunneling or road projects at hand.
Meanwhile, some media reports are claiming that the third trapped worker, Hirdya Ram has lost his battle for life.
Earlier in the day, the other two trapped workers -- Mani Ram and Satish Tomar – were in regular touch with the rescuers through a microphone linked with a webcam. They were also provided dry fruits and glucose.
For the past five days, a 50-odd member team comprising engineers, technical staff and geologists drilled a 42-metre vertical shaft through the mountain in its bid to rescue the workers.
A snag in the drilling machine hampered the evacuation throughout Sunday.
Of the 1.2-km proposed traffic tunnel of the Kiratpur-Manali expressway road project, 275 metres was excavated when disaster struck on September 12.
The contract for tunnel laying, involving an outlay of Rs 82 crore, has been assigned to the Chandigarh-based Himalayan Construction Co, three of whose workers, belonging to the hill state, were trapped.