Uttarkashi Tunnel collapse: Survivors would need physical and mental rehabilitation, say doctors

Uttarkashi Tunnel collapse: Survivors would need physical and mental rehabilitation, say doctors

New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) The workers trapped in the collapsed under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand would need both physical and mental rehabilitation upon being rescued, doctors advised.

A total of 40 workers are trapped in the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route that collapsed four days ago.

The labourers are safe, and oxygen, electricity, medicines, food items and water are being constantly supplied to them through pipes, officials said on Wednesday.

This incident could be traumatic for the survivors as they are likely undergoing mental strain along with physical stress, doctors said.

The victims might experience panic attacks because of being trapped in closed spaces for long, said Dr Ajay Agarwal, director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida.

'Further, the ambient conditions such as oxygen and carbon dioxide levels too could impact their physical health and prolonged exposure to cold underground temperatures could possibly cause hypothermia and make them fall unconscious,' Agarwal told PTI.

Hypothermia is a condition in which the body fails to regulate its temperature in response to external temperatures and thus, begins to lose heat faster than it's produced and therefore body temperatures plummet to subnormal levels.

Agarwal said the situation might worsen for the workers who have chronic health problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, even as the regular supply of food and water might sustain them physically and prevent dehydration.

However, the food and water supply, along with physically supporting the trapped victims, is likely to provide them with a psychological boost and send a message that 'help is not far', the doctor said.

'This could reduce anxiety levels and decrease the chances of ketosis,' he added.

Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that one's body enters during starvation.

Upon being rescued, the victims would need to be checked for dehydration or hypothermia, for which they may then require treatment, Agarwal said.

However, the incident is highly likely to cause them mental trauma, for which the workers would need to undergo psychological tests and counselling, along with physical fitness tests. PTI KRS RPA

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