Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The first images of dozens of Indian construction workers trapped in a collapsed highway tunnel they were building emerged Tuesday as the men entered the 10th day of their ordeal in the Himalayan province of Uttarakhand.
The 70-second video of the 41 men was captured via a small endoscopic camera on the end of a cable fed through a six-inch wide pipe that rescuers managed to insert through the rubble blocking the 1.9-mile-long Silkyara-Barkot tunnel.
The workers, apparently in good condition standing together in a large well-lit space, smile and wave to the camera as an official assures them rescue is coming soon.
The video is of live images on a monitor in the rescue team's control center. According to the digital readouts on the monitor, the video was taken early Tuesday at around 3.45 a.m. local time and the men are approximately 110 yards into the tunnel through a mountain.
The pipe was also used to provide the men with their first hot meal, in bottles, since becoming trapped after a large landslide nearby caused heavy debris and earth to crush part of the tunnel, effectively sealing it and cutting off the oxygen supply to the workers.
The inside of the pipe carrying the camera appeared to be contaminated with debris but the official told the men it would be cleaned and then used to send clean water to them.
Officials first established contact with the 41 men more than a week ago after inserting a smaller pipe and have been using it to funnel food, water and oxygen to them ever since.
Back then it was hoped high-powered machinery could be used to drill down from the mountaintop to possibly create a space for workers to crawl out with officials saying they expected to extract the men within days.
However, rescuers were forced to halt the drilling operation Friday after the workers heard cracking noises above them that created a "panic situation" over fears the ceiling could collapse in on them.
Rescuers have since resumed drilling, but this time horizontally, which they hope will enable them to lay a pipe large enough for the trapped men to crawl out.
The tunnel project, approved in 2018 at a cost of $184 million, is part of ambitious plans by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve year-round highway infrastructure serving famous Hindu pilgrimage sites in the mountainous region.