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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

All 41 workers rescued from collapsed Indian tunnel after 17 days

All 41 construction workers who were trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel for 17 days in northern India have been brought to safety, hours after rescue crew drilled through the debris of rock, concrete and mud to reach them.

Following days of multiple rescue attempts that hit obstacles just metres from reaching the men, they were eventually pulled out on Tuesday on wheeled stretchers through a 90-centimetre (three-foot) wide steel pipe, in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

The final phase of the delicate operation was completed in about an hour.

The labourers, low-wage workers from some of India’s poorest states, had been stuck in the 4.5-km (three-mile) tunnel being built in Uttarakhand since it caved in early on November 12. The intricate and painstaking efforts to get them out had been closely watched across the country for days.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, the state’s top elected official, met some of the workers before they were taken to hospital, presenting them with traditional marigold garlands. Ambulances and helicopters were on standby at the entrance of the tunnel.

Officials at the site, where sweets were being distributed and firecrackers were set off in celebration, said the workers appeared to be in good health.

One of the rescuers, Devender, who only gave his first name, told the New Delhi Television channel, “The trapped workers were overjoyed when they spotted us in the tunnel. Some rushed toward me and hugged me.”

Another rescuer called Vakil said: “We had decided that we would work 24/7 and not leave until we bring all of them out.”

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