Horrifying video footage has emerged of 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel as they receive their first hot meal in nine days.
Rice and lentils were able to reach them through a newly installed steel pipe pushed through the rubble.
For the past nine days, workers have survived on dry food sent through a narrower pipe.
Oxygen is also supplied to them via a separate tube.
Today, officials released a video showing workers looking into the lens of an endoscopic camera and moving through the blocked tunnel wearing their construction hats.
They can also be seen communicating with rescuers via walkie-talkies.
The men’s families are becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated as the rescue operation becomes more critical.
The father of one of the workers, Munnilal Kishku, has barely slept since the collapse.
“We could never have imagined such a situation,” Kishku told AFP from his village in the eastern state of Bihar, one of India’s poorest.
He said his family had “sleepless nights” while waiting.
They can only pray and hope that the government’s promises that everything will be done to save the workers will soon come to fruition.
Excavators have been removing tons of earth, concrete and rubble from the tunnel under construction in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand since November 12, when part of it collapsed.
But rescue efforts were slow and hampered by falling debris and repeated failures of key heavy drilling equipment.
Rescuers are now believed to be working on an alternative rescue plan that would involve digging vertically towards the men.
Since the collapse, Kishku has not received any news from his son, Virendra, who is in his mid-twenties and, like most of the other trapped men, is a migrant worker who left home to find work elsewhere in the country.
“It is a difficult time for us,” he added. “We regularly pray for divine blessings.”
“We hope he returns safely.”
Some family members of those trapped are camping near the tunnel, desperately waiting for news. State authorities provide them with accommodation and transportation.
Abhishek Sharma, a psychiatrist hired by the government to monitor the mental health of the trapped workers, said he gave the men advice.
“We maintained constant contact, suggested activities like yoga and walking and encouraged conversations among ourselves to keep morale high,” Sharma told the Indian Express newspaper.
The sight of their loved ones – exhausted, afraid, but alive – was a great boost to those who desperately hoped for their rescue.