Rescue underway at site of collapsed tunnel in central Vietnam

By Lam Vien-Gia Binh, Thanh Nien News

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Rescue work is still underway in a tunnel at a hydropower plant project in central Vietnam to save 12 trapped workers after the tunnel collapsed on Tuesday. 
According to latest updates, water has submerged by one meter inside the tunnel the Da Dang-Da Chomo hydropower plant in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, but the 12 workers are still safe. 
“Although the water level is still increasing, they managed to hold on to higher positions,” VnExpress quoted Deputy Minister of Construction Le Quang Hung, who is directly instructing rescue work at the site, as saying. 
Hung added that it may take several days for water to cause risks to the workers given the current rising level. 
The Minister of Transport, Trinh Dinh Dung, and Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, arrived in the site at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday to instruct the rescue.
The Minister of Health, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, also arrived in the site at noon to inspect the preparation for medical supports for the trapped workers when they are rescued.
A group of experts from the Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) in coordination with sappers are drilling another hole into the tunnel in an attempt to bring the trapped ones out through a pipe. 
The drilling work is made difficult given the huge quantity of rocks, soil and mud following the collapse. 
The rescue involves hundreds of firefighters and members of the security forces. On Tuesday, the rescuers drilled through rock and dirt to pump oxygen and bring food and drinks into the tunnel. 
Ho Chi Minh City’s firefighting police have been assigned to Lam Dong to join the rescue, according to Colonel Le Tan Buu, director of the HCMC Firefighting Police Division. 
A section of the tunnel caved in 500 meters from its entrance during construction of the Da Dang-Da Chomo hydropower plant at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (R) talks with Phan Thi Hoa, wife of Truong Tuan Viet, one of the 12 workers trapped inside the tunnel

Phan Thi Hoa, wife of Truong Tuan Viet, one of the 12 workers trapped inside the tunnel, said she had flown from the northern province of Ha Nam after hearing news about the incident. Hoa had to ask her parents-in-law to take care of their children, only five and seven years old respectively, to leave for Lam Dong.

“My husband just started working here one month ago. What I can do right now is to pray for his safety,” she told Thanh Nien.

It was unclear what caused the tunnel to collapse. Some officials blamed the area’s weak geological formations. 
Some others, however, suggested it was triggered by heavy rain, which have complicated rescue efforts. 
The hydropower plant, one of dozens planned or under construction in energy-hungry Vietnam, is expected to produce about 110 million kWh annually, with total investment of VND475 billion (US$22.24 million), according to Reuters.

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