Divers have been dispatched in the search for 14 workers missing since water flooded a tunnel under construction in southern China three days ago, authorities said yesterday.
Zhuhai Deputy Mayor Zhang Yisheng (張宜生) told a news conference that the water level in the tunnel had dropped by 11.3m, an online report by China Central Television said.
Underwater robots, uncrewed ships and sonar detectors would also be deployed, Zhang said.
Search teams have been slowly advancing into the tunnel as water is pumped out.
As of yesterday morning, they had gotten about 600m into the tunnel, a little more than half of the 1.1km distance to where the workers were trapped — that is the length of the 1.8km expressway tunnel that has been dug so far.
Their advance has been slowed by carbon monoxide fumes from machinery being used in the tunnel as part of the operation, although the level of the potential deadly gas has been lowered by improving ventilation.
The flood happened at about 3:30am on Thursday. An abnormal noise was heard and bits of material started falling off on one side of the two-tube tunnel. An evacuation was ordered. Water rushed in and flowed through a connection into the other tube of the tunnel, trapping 14 workers on that side.
The tunnel lies under a reservoir, but the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
In March, two workers died in another part of the tunnel when a protective wall collapsed and they were hit by falling stones, a notice from the Zhuhai City Emergency Management Department said.
Zhuhai is a coastal city in Guangdong Province and near Macao at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta.
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