Tibetan tunnel breaks through

20 December 2010

Contractors last month achieved breakthrough on the 3310m Galongla mountain tunnel in remote Tibet. The final 152kg blast round was detonated on 15 December to complete the excavation.

The tunnel is part of an 117km strategically important highway to link the last isolated county in China with the national highway system. The road will link Bome County and Metok County in Nyingtri Prefecture of Tibet.

The tunnel crosses Galongla mountain at an elevation of some 3750m to provide the 11,000 population of Metok County with an all weather route. Snow and rain make the mountain roads impassable for nine months of the year, and walking out of the mountains can take about 10 hours according to China news service Xinhua. Mudslides and avalanches are common on the mountain.

According to Tibetan media, China’s urgency to build a highway link to the remote county could be explained due to its strategic importance. It is located in the lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo river at the eastern section of the Himalayas, close to occupied Tibet’s border with India’s strategically important Arunachal Pradesh state.