AFP : Indian rescuers are considering opening a vertical shaft to free 41 men trapped in a collapsed tunnel after drilling at the site was paused over fears of further cave-ins and as efforts stretched into a second week. Excavators have been removing earth, concrete and rubble from the under-construction tunnel in the northern Himalayan state of Uttarakhand since last Sunday after a portion of the tunnel the workers were in collapsed. Rescue efforts have been slowed by continued falling debris as well as repeated breakdowns of the crucial heavy drilling machines, with the air force having to twice airlift in new kit. Drilling through the tonnes of debris was paused late Friday, after a cracking sound created a “panic situation”, officials said. Operations were then halted due to the possibility of “further collapse”, said the government’s highways and infrastructure company, NHIDCL.