Rescuers drilled through rock and dirt to reach the 12 people trapped in a tunnel at a hydropower plant project in central Vietnam, 12 hours after the tunnel caved in.
Colonel Hoang Cong Thao, head of the Firefighting and Rescue Police Department of Lam Dong Province, said rescuers have been able to establish contact with the trapped workers, who are “in good health.”
Oxygen is continued to be pumped into the tunnel, Col. Thao said.
A section of the tunnel caved in 500 meters from its entrance during construction of the Da Dang-Da Chomo hydropower plant in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong at 7 a.m. today.
According to Col. Thao, since removing rocks and dirt from the tunnel may cause it to collapse further, rescuers have opted to strengthen the roof of the tunnel and enlarge the drilling hole in order push a 0.6 meter (2 feet) diameter pipe through so that the trapped workers could crawl out.
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.