Bhopal/Katni: An under-construction tunnel of the Bargi canal project caved in at Sleemanabad in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh, trapping nine labourers, a senior official said on Saturday.

Among the trapped labourers, three were safely rescued. The rescue operation was underway to rescue the remaining labourers with the help of a State Disaster Emergency Response Force (SDERF) team which arrived from Jabalpur, Katni collector Priyank M said.

Madhya Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajesh Rajora monitored the rescue operation from the state secretariat.

The incident took place late in the evening, an official said.

“All six labourers are alive and the SDERF team with necessary equipment is trying to reach them by digging a shaft. The district collector and the SP are camping at the site to supervise the rescue operation,” Rajora told PTI.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke to the district collector and the superintendent of police (SP) over the incident.

Chouhan directed officials to make arrangements for providing treatment to the injured labourers, the official said.

Motilal Kol, one the labourers rescued from a tunnel which caved in here, had lost all hope of coming out alive and asked another trapped worker to tell his mother to stay calm if he dies under the rubble.

“I told my friend Nandkumar Yadav to tell my mother that I will be born to her in my next life,” a sobbing Kol told PTI on Sunday at the Katni district hospital, where he is currently undergoing treatment.

Recalling the nightmare he faced on Saturday when he was inside the under-construction tunnel in Sleemanabad, Kol (30), a resident of Singrauli district in Madhya Pradesh, said at around 7 pm, he experienced tremors underground and the labourers on the ground raised an alarm to run away.

In a split second, a part of the tunnel caved in, Kol said.

“Yadav and I had a near death experience. The people on the ground above asked whether we needed water to drink, but I refused. We pleaded that oxygen be pumped into the tunnel,” he said.

Kol said he was rescued after Yadav, at around 4 am on Sunday.

Yadav (32), who also belongs to Singrauli, said he felt as if the stars were tumbling around him while he was trapped.

Two more survivors Vijay Kol and Indramani Kol, in the age group of 25 to 30 years, also shared a similar experience.

The four survivors said they tried to comfort each other while being trapped inside the tunnel.

The survivors also said they did not hear the voices of co-worker Goralal and supervisor Ravi, who were also inside the tunnel at the time of the incident.

Goralal, a native of Singrauli, and Ravi, a resident of neighbouring Maharashtra, were still trapped under the debris, as per officials.

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