Man trapped by tunnel collapse rescued after 8 hours — and arrested, Italy police say

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A tunnel collapse trapped a man for eight hours before emergency crews rescued him and arrested him, according to authorities in Italy. Officials said three other men were arrested in connection with the incident.

Daily life in a small street of Rome, southwest of Vatican City, stopped suddenly on Thursday, Aug. 11, when a portion of the road collapsed, AFP reported.

The asphalt collapsed into a tunnel about 20 feet underneath, trapping a man, local outlet Rai News reported.

Accomplices of the trapped man called for help, bringing firefighters and police officers to the scene, CBS News reported. Police arrested one man at the site and two others fleeing by car, CNN reported.

According to local TV station Corriere, the man could be heard shouting for help and cursing. The tunnel collapse risked suffocating him, the outlet reported. La Stampa also reported that the collapsed earth crushed the man’s rib cage.

Emergency personnel worked for eight hours to dig down and free the man, the Vigili del Fuoco, Rome’s fire department, said in a tweet.

But the digging did not stop there.

Investigation of the area found that the illegally dug tunnel began in a vacant storefront and reached midway under the street, with two banks only a couple hundred yards away, Rai News reported.

Police and media reports accused the four men of digging the tunnel as part of an elaborate bank robbery scheme, CBS News reported. Police issued a statement that this “is one of the theories” that they have not confirmed or ruled out.

A building resident told AFP that, “No one paid enough attention because this shop was rented, and we all thought that the people who were there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either.”

The two men who tried to flee the scene deny having a connection to the trapped man, La Stampa reported. The other two men were arrested and accused of damage to public property, CBS News reported.

The trapped man was last known to be in critical condition in a nearby hospital, La Stampa reported Thursday.

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