(Updates to make clear one Chinese trapped, supplies delivered)
KATHMANDU, April 25 Sixteen workers including a
Chinese national have been trapped by a landslide inside the
tunnel of a hydroelectric power project in Nepal, a project
official said on Friday.
The men were working at the Upper Madi Hydroelectric Project
in Kaski district, 125 km (80 miles) west of Kathmandu, when
falling earth and rocks blocked the tunnel 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.
He said rescuers had established contact with 13 of the 16
people trapped in the tunnel and they were safe. There was no
information about the others.
Drinking water and air have been supplied to the men
through pipes and they are expected to be out in three to four
hours, Koirala told Reuters from the site.
The project would generate 25 megawatts of power in the
energy-starved country. The China International Water and
Electric Corporation owns 80 percent of 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 1
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