Rescuers are racing against time to reach 12 workers who were trapped in the Da Dang-Dachomo hydropower plant tunnel collapse in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong early on December 16.

Colonel Hoang Cong Thao, head of the Lam Dong provincial department of fire prevention and control, said more than 100 rescue workers, including military sappers, have been working in the mission since the accident occurred.

The rescuers installed an air conduit to allow oxygen to pass and make contact with the trapped workers, including one woman.

Through the air conduit, they delivered water, milk, and soup to the workers, who informed that they are all in a stable health condition.

By noon December 17, the rescuers reinforced the tunnel to avoid possible collapses while working on a plan to pump water out since learning that water was rising by around 1 meter in the upper part of the collapsed section.

They planned to drill a new hole into the tunnel to ventilate the air together with enlarging the air conduit to ably contain a steel hose with a diameter of 70 centimetres for the trapped workers to get out, said Colonel Thao.

Right after the accident, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung dispatched an urgent notice requiring all necessary measures to be deployed to rescue the trapped workers.

Work on the Da Dang-Dachomo plant in Lac Duong district kicked off in 2003. The 475 trillion VND (22.6 billion USD) plant, invested by the Civil Engineering Construction Corp. No. 5 (CIENCO 5), is designed to have a capacity of 22 MW.

The collapsed site is about 500 metres from the opening of the 700-m-long tunnel running though the mountain to bring water to the plant.

Thirty-two workers were in the tunnel when the collapse occurred and 20 of them ran out successfully.-VNA