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India tunnel collapse kills 28, work to resume
Updated: 2004-08-04 13:35

The deaths of 28 workers when a tunnel collapsed in heavy rains will not prevent India resuming work on a dam deep in the Himalayas in an area vulnerable to earthquakes, an official said on Wednesday.

Dozens of workers were in the tunnel when it caved in late on Monday near the site of the huge Tehri dam that environment groups say is dangerous because it is being built in mountains prone to earthquakes.

Rescue workers had pulled out 25 bodies by Wednesday morning, the state official said, adding that at least three more bodies were still buried under the debris.

Nine workers were in hospital with injuries. "We don't think there is anybody else trapped inside," said A.S. Napalchyal, principal secretary for disaster management in the northern Uttaranchal state. Construction of the 860-feet Tehri dam, the highest in Asia, has forced the relocation of tens of thousands of people as the main town of Tehri and some 125 surrounding villages are gradually submerged as it fills.

Work on the dam, which is part of a huge hydro-electric project for power-starved India, had been suspended, but would resume soon, Nepalchyal said.

Critics say several northern Indian towns would be at risk if the dam ever burst. Indian Power Minister P.M. Sayeed was due to travel to the dam site on Wednesday. The federal government has ordered an investigation into the accident.

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