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Rescuers in India tunnel collapse change approach as frantic efforts pass one-week mark

New Delhi CNN —

Indian authorities are exploring new ways to rescue 40 construction workers trapped underground for more than a week.

The workers became stranded when a highway tunnel they were building partially collapsed in the northern state of Uttarakhand last Sunday.

Although they are being supplied with food and water, a doctor said some of the men were getting ill, and had been vomiting and getting headaches.

State authorities have approved buying equipment and more manpower to implement options such as constructing escape tunnels from the left and right sides of the tunnel, officials said.

Drilling vertically from the upper hill — which is already being implemented — still remains a consideration.

Rescue teams had been drilling non-stop to reach the stranded workers since acquiring a high-powered drilling machine on Thursday, but given the fragile mountain terrain, there were concerns of more debris falling and further complicating the rescue efforts.

“We have decided to go with a pause-and-go approach to maintain the equilibrium,” Anshu Manish Khalkho, director of state-run highway management company National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) said Friday.

Authorities in India previously revealed they had contacted the specialist teams in Norway and Thailand behind the successful rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand in 2018.

In an emailed reply to CNN, officials from the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) said their Indian partner, Indian Railways (RVNL) was currently on the ground and assisting with the rescue operation, but confirmed that members of the NGI were not involved at present.

Rescuers had drilled around