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Workers left trapped in tunnel collapse

Update: December, 17/2014 - 08:44
Rescue workers in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong use a pipe to pump oxygen into the tunnel. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Dung

LAM DONG (VNS) — Twelve workers were trapped when a tunnel collapsed yesterday at the Da Dang-Dachomo hydropower project in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The workers were going to a construction site inside the tunnel around 7am when it collapsed 300-500m from the entrance. The cause of the accident has not yet been determined.

The possibility of another collapse is high, according to the project's management committee.

The tunnel became unstable after the initial collapse, making it impossible to dig any further for fear of another collapse, the province's People's Committee chairman Doan Van Viet said.

He said about 100 policemen and firefighters were sent to the site to begin the rescue operation.

The rescue team is preparing to drill a big metal pipe through the debris as an escape route.

Urgent note

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sent an urgent note to Lam Dong Province yesterday, asking that all necessary measures be taken to rescue workers trapped in the Da Dang-Dachomo hydropower plant accident.

He told authorities in the Central Highlands province that they should muster all-out efforts to search for and save the victims who are trapped under ground after part of a tunnel in the plant collapsed yesterday.

The National Committee for Search and Rescue and the Ministries of National Defence and Public Security must stand ready to support the local rescue efforts, he directed.

Work on the Da Dang-Dachomo project kicked off in 2003. The VND475 billion (US$22.2 million) plant, invested in by the Civil Engineering Construction Corp. No5 (CIENCO 5), is designed to have a power generation capacity of 22 MW.

Rescue forces

At 8pm yesterday, rescue forces made contact with the trapped workers.

The 12 victims, including one woman, are all in good health, rescue forces said, adding that they had managed to clear the site where the workers are trapped, about 500m from the entrance.

Work on a pipeline to provide oxygen for the workers is underway.

Colonel Hoang Cong Thao from the provincial police said rescue work would continue until the victims were brought to the surface. — VNS

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