Four workers trapped in Bajhang hydropower tunnel found dead after 24hrsPolice believe all four men, who had been trapped since Sunday, died of suffocation.
All four workers, trapped inside a tunnel of Kalanga Gad Hydropower Project since Sunday, were found dead on Monday afternoon.
A rescue team from Disaster Management Training Centre of the Armed Police Force, Kathmandu, reached the incident site on Monday afternoon on a helicopter and recovered the bodies, said DSP Ganesh Bam of District Police Office, Bajhang.
Police identified the victims as Karna Bahadur Shahi and Mahendra Bahadur Shahi of Gurans Rural Municipality of Dailekh; Mahendra Saud of Turma Khand Rural Municipality of Achham; and Shersingh Dhami of Bungal Rural Municipality of Bajhang.
It is believed that the victims might have been trapped inside the tunnel from at least 3pm Sunday.
The APF team from Kathmandu was sent for after the rescue workers comprising of Nepal Police, APF and Nepal Army personnel failed to reach the trapped workers.
Apart from the four workers who lost their lives, three others including tractor driver Dil Bahadur Thapa Magar had entered the tunnel to inspect the condition of the lights and oxygen supply pipe, as the 1,600-metre passage was closed for over 35 days owing to Dashain and Tihar festivals.
Magar had dropped off two workers nearly 500 metres inside the tunnel before venturing further with the four victims.
He along with other four technicians headed deeper inside the tunnel and dropped them some 1km inside the tunnel. “Then as I was trying to head back to the earlier drop site to pick up the other two technicians, I experienced difficulty in breathing. When I looked back inside the tunnel, the four of them had already collapsed to the ground,” said Magar, “I then rushed back towards the entrance and took the other two technicians with me. We became unconscious after exiting the tunnel and when I came to my senses later that evening, I informed the authorities about the incident.”
Kalanga Gad Hydropower Project operator Khageshwor Bohora said that the technicians lost their lives as they failed to adhere to the safety protocols while entering a long-closed tunnel. “The technicians, while entering the tunnel, only turned on the oxygen fans placed at the entrance and did not turn on the ones at the deeper end,” said Bohora, “The entrance fan only passes oxygen up to a certain distance; the deeper you go, the oxygen from the entrance fan depletes further. Had they taken proper precautions, this incident could have been prevented.”