UA steel tube wide enough to allow men to pass “was introduced up to 52 meters into the tunnel and should pierce [os escombros] at 57 meters (…) The rescue operation should be completed soon”, Pushkar Singh Dhami told journalists.

After several setbacks, military engineers and miners are working manually to clear a path through the rock and rubble in order to clear the last section and reach the men, who have been trapped for 17 days.

A team of three people takes turns digging and inserting the last sections of a steel tube wide enough for a man to pass through and to allow workers to be removed.

They have been trapped there since November 12, when a landslide caused the collapse of part of the 4.5 kilometer tunnel they were building, around 200 meters from the entrance.

Authorities began providing workers with hot meals through a 6-inch-diameter tube early last week, after they had spent days surviving on dry food sent through a narrower channel. Oxygen arrives through a separate channel.

Uttarakhand is full of Hindu temples, and construction of highways and buildings has been constant to accommodate the flow of pilgrims and tourists.

This tunnel is part of the Chardham Road, a landmark federal project linking several Hindu pilgrimage sites.

Read Also: India. Military personnel will dig tunnel by hand to free trapped workers

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