Bilaspur (ND TV): Two men who survived nine days in a collapsed tunnel in Himachal Pradesh’s Bilaspur say they were forced to eat paper at first.
“We had filthy water from a damaged inlet pipe and ate paper from a machine in the tunnel,” said Maniram, who said he had almost given up.
“I saw the rubble around me…40 metre deep, I thought everything was over,” he said.
Maniram and Satish Tomar, along with several other labourers, were working on the 1200 foot tunnel being built as part of a highway project, when a large section caved in.
“It went dark and for three days, I was thrashing about, covered in mud and rocks,” said Satish.
It was on day four that the two men heard some activity from above.
“I heard digging. There was a draft and suddenly we saw a big cage being lowered down,” said Satish.
“There was a camera in the cage. That was when I realized that they were trying to rescue me and I felt re-energized,” he shared. For the first time in days, the two got real food – cashew nuts, almonds, glucose biscuits and water was pushed down a pipe.
The first question Satish asked his rescuers was: “Is it day or night?”
When they were pulled out, to cheers and applause from the crowd at the accident site, Satish and Maniram felt like heroes. They held up victory signs.
Some 50 rescue workers were challenged by rain, sliding debris and mechanical snags when they dug their way through a hill to reach the tunnel.
Asked what kept them going, Satish said: “If you have the courage, you can survive anything.”