Water flooded a tunnel under construction in Zhuhai, southern China, four days ago. Twelve workers are missing. Sadly, two were found drowned. Divers are continuing to search for survivors. But wet, muddy conditions make the search difficult.
Zhuhai is a coastal city in Guangdong province. It is near Macau at the mouth of the Pearl River delta. The area was one of China’s early special economic zones when the ruling Communist Party started opening up the nation’s economy about 40 years ago.
The vast tunnel being dug is part of a major expressway. It will link the coastal city to a bridge to neighboring Macau and Hong Kong.
Zhang Yisheng is the vice mayor of Zhuhai city. He said in a news conference with state broadcaster CCTV that the water level in the tunnel had dropped by 51 feet. Underwater robots, unmanned ships, and sonar detectors would also be deployed to help, Zhang says.
Search teams have been slowly advancing—but only as the water gets pumped out. Workers have progressed about 800 yards into the tunnel. Rescuers are still about 400 yards away from where the workers are thought to be trapped. So far, the workers have dug about 1,200 yards of the new expressway tunnel.
Carbon monoxide fumes from machinery being used in the tunnel slowed the rescue workers’ advance. However, improving the ventilation system in the tunnel has helped lower the level of the potentially deadly gas.
The flood happened about 3:30 a.m. last Thursday. Witnesses heard an abnormal noise, and bits of material started falling off on one side of the two-tube tunnel. Officials ordered an evacuation—but not before water rushed in and flowed through a connection into the other tube of the tunnel. The flood trapped workers on that side.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation. But the tunnel lies under a reservoir, so there is an abundance of water in the area.
In March, two workers died in another part of the tunnel when a protective wall collapsed. They were hit by falling stones, according to a notice from the Zhuhai emergency management department.
Yan Dawu is a general manager of the construction company working on the tunnel. He says, “We feel deeply guilty and deeply blame ourselves.”
Pray for the rescue efforts in China and for those struggling with guilt and sorrow—for grief that “produces a repentance that leads to salvation”! (2 Corinthians 7:10)
(Rescuers build embankments to pump out water from a flooded tunnel in Zhuhai city in south China’s Guangdong province on Friday, July 16, 2021. Chinatopix via AP)