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Under-construction tunnel in J&K's Ramban collapses

Jammu/Srinagar/New Delhi: One person was killed and another nine are feared dead as the initial portion of a two-lane under-construction tunnel collapsed late Thursday night on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district. Local officials said one body had been recovered but the rescue operation had to be halted in the afternoon after heavy rains caused fresh rocks and debris to fall near the entrance of the tunnel.
Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said the work on an adit entrance to carry out the tunnel construction-had started on Thursday after carrying out the first blast on the very "slippery" zone, popularly known as Khoni Nallah. "The mishap happened when a fragmented rock came down from 15 meters from above suddenly without any warning. The contractor had carried out shot creting and had also put rock bolts up to 12 meters. But these measures could not prevent the fatal mishap," said an official.
The central government has set up a three-member expert panel comprising a professor from IIT (Delhi), a chief engineer from Border Road Organisation, and one from the private sector to investigate the fatal accident. The panel will submit the report in 10 days. Officials said that based on the finding of the probe panel, safety measures will be taken for continuing the work.
The NHAI officials said the work had barely started for the two-lane tunnel from the Srinagar side when the fatal accident happened.
The personnel from state and national disaster relief forces, police, and Army rushed to the spot to carry out the massive rescue operation soon after the incident occurred. They could rescue three workers. Sources said when they were about to reach the remaining nine who were trapped in the debris, another rockslide took place. "We had no option but to halt the rescue operation. Then there was heavy rain. The rescue operation will be resumed soon," said an official.
The three rescued persons were shifted to the district hospital in Ramban and from there one has been referred to the Government Medical College in Jammu owing to his injuries. "We are putting in our best effort to rescue the remaining nine persons. But the chances of their survival are bleak," said a source.

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