KATHMANDU, April 25 At least a dozen workers
including Chinese technicians have been trapped by a landslide
inside the tunnel of a hydroelectric power project in Nepal, a
project official said on Friday.
A few Chinese technicians were working with about 12 Nepali
workers inside the tunnel of the Upper Madi Hydroelectric
Project in Kaski district, 125 km (80 miles) west of Kathmandu,
when falling earth and rocks blocked its entrance.
"Excavators are removing the debris and we are trying to
rescue those trapped inside," said Ram Raj Koirala, a Nepali
official at the power station being built by a Chinese firm.
"We have been able to send drinking water and air inside the
tunnel and we are hopeful of rescuing them in three to four
hours," Koirala told Reuters from the site. He said the workers
were safe but declined to elaborate.
The project would generate 25 megawatts of power in the
energy-starved country. The China International Water and
Electric Corporation owns 80 percent in the $650 million plant
while the project's Nepali backers own the rest.
Nepal has the potential to generate up to 83,000 megawatts
of hydro-power from rivers cascading down from the Himalayas,
the world's highest mountain range.
But due to a lack of funds and technical know-how, just one
percent of that potential has been tapped. Nepal's 27 million
people typically endure 12 hours of power cuts a day.
China is a major donor, business partner and investor in
Nepal, a strategically located buffer state between China and
India. Many Chinese companies are involved in infrastructure
projects that include hydroelectric power.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Douglas Busvine and