Disasters & Accidents

All trapped workers rescued from collapsed Himalayan tunnel after 17 days

New Delhi, Nov 28 (EFE).- Officials successfully pulled out all 41 workers trapped inside a collapsed Himalayan tunnel in north India on Tuesday after 17 days of intense efforts, thus concluding a challenging rescue operation marked by mountainous setbacks and machinery failures.

The rescue, though delayed, brought joy to the relieved families and authorities.

“I am completely relieved and happy as 41 trapped laborers in the Silkyara tunnel collapse have been successfully rescued,” Road and Highways Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari wrote on the social network X, previously Twitter.

“This was a well-coordinated effort by multiple agencies, marking one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years,” Gadkari said.

“Various departments and agencies complemented each other despite facing numerous challenges.”

Relieved officials and relatives distributed sweets to celebrate the occasion outside the tunnel.

Triumphant rescue teams and family members greeted the workers individually, as shown live by Indian TV channels.

The workers became trapped on the morning of Nov. 12 when a section of the under-construction mountain tunnel collapsed in the northern state of Uttarakhand.

Nearly 60 meters of thick debris stood between the trapped workers and the tunnel entrance.

Dozens of rescuers took turns and worked tirelessly for more than two weeks to carry out drilling by a tunnel boring machine that broke down on Friday.

Three teams of rat-hole miners, specialists in making their way through narrow tunnels, carried out the last section of the excavation despite the risks.

The specialists manually dug through rocks using hand-held drilling tools, navigating narrow tunnels to reach the trapped workers.

Up to 41 ambulances were kept outside the tunnel to transport the rescued workers to a makeshift hospital at the accident site before taking them to the district hospital onboard military helicopters.

Throughout the 17-day ordeal, the workers received food, water, medicines, and oxygen through a narrow pipe that connected their cavity to the entrance and survived the collapse.

The rescue operation lasted over 400 hours and was hindered by various setbacks, delaying the deadline to pull them out alive.

There were minor collapses as metallic obstacles hindered drilling, with frequent breakdowns of drilling machines.

“Patience, hard work, and faith won,” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami wrote on X. EFE


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