The workers have been trapped since 12 November, when a landslide caused a portion of the 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) tunnel they were building to collapse about 200 meters (650 feet) from the entrance.
Officials in India said on Tuesday rescuers are five meters (about 16 feet) away from the 41 construction workers who have been trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in the country’s north for over two weeks, raising hopes they may be freed soon.
Kirti Panwar, a state government spokesperson, said about a dozen men had worked overnight to manually dig through rocks and debris, taking turns to drill using hand-held drilling tools and clearing out the muck as they approach what is hoped to be the final stretch of the rescue operation.
Rescuers resorted to manual digging after the drilling machine broke down irreparably on Friday while drilling horizontally from the front because of the mountainous terrain of Uttarakhand state where the tunnel collapsed.
The machine bored through about 47 meters (nearly 154 feet) out of approximately the 57-60 meters (nearly 187-196 feet) needed, before rescuers started to work by hand to create a passageway to evacuate the trapped workers. Authorities on Tuesday said rescuers had managed to drill through over 50 meters in total so far.