A labourer was killed after a part of an under-construction tunnel collapsed on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Thursday night in Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban district.
Officials added that three labourers have been rescued and nine continue to be trapped in the debris. They further said that rescue operations continue but their chances of survival are slim.
The incident occurred late on Thursday night and the rescue operation is in full swing. Officials said the three rescued workers have been admitted to hospitals.
A senior official told PTI, "Around 10:15 pm on Thursday, the audit tunnel of T3 on the highway near Khooni Nallah in Ramban collapsed, trapping 11-12 labourers of Sarla Company working there."
The rescue operation started at midnight and was going on in full swing with rock breakers being used to reach the trapped people, he said, adding one of the three injured have been taken to the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu.
Those trapped inside the tunnel are West Bengal residents Jadav Roy (23) Gautam Roy (22), Sudhir Roy (31), Dipak Roy (33) and Parimal Roy (38), Shiva Chowhn (26) from Assam, Nepali citizens Nawaraj Chowdhury (26) and Kushi Ram (25), and Jammu and Kashmir residents Muzaffar (38) and Israt (30), officials said.
The hospitalised include Vishnu Gola (33) of Jharkhand and Ameen (26) of Jammu and Kashmir. All of them were employed by a company tasked with auditing the tunnel, they said.
Union minister Jitendra Singh termed the collapse of a part of the under-construction tunnel on the national highway stretch between Ramban and Ramsu "unfortunate".
"I'm in constant touch with DC Mussrat Islam. Nearly 10 labour workers were trapped under the debris. Another two were rescued and hospitalised with injuries. Rescue operations going on in full swing. Civil administration and police authorities are monitoring the situation," he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Ramban Massaratul Islam and Senior Superintendent of Police Mohita Sharma are at the spot along with the deputy inspector general of police, supervising the rescue operation.
Kumar, the divisional commissioner of Jammu, said the rescue operation is likely to consume more time as rock-breakers are being used to create space in order to reach out to those trapped.
Though officials claimed that the audit tunnel is only three to four metres, Kumar said, "It is not known whether they (those trapped) are inside it or outside the tunnel area. There is debris all-around."
(With PTI Inputs)