All 41 Workers Rescued From Tunnel After 17-Day Ordeal

The last of the 41 workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel in India have been rescued after 17 days. The workers were trapped in the tunnel, which was being built for a hydroelectric power project, on November 11.

On Wednesday, workers trapped in a collapsed tunnel in India shared how hope kept them strong throughout their 17-day ordeal. The 41 workers, hailing from some of India’s poorest states, were successfully rescued and are now en route to a specialized hospital in Rishikesh city. After spending the night at a makeshift medical facility in Chinyalisaur, a small Himalayan town, doctors reported that all the men were in good condition but would require long-term support, including monitoring for post-traumatic stress.

During their confinement, the workers had lights and service pipes for oxygen, water, food, and communication with their families. They engaged in daily walks and yoga within the 2-km stretch of the highway tunnel. The men expressed that the knowledge of not being forgotten and the assurance of an impending rescue kept their spirits high.

Despite the challenging conditions, rescuers worked tirelessly around the clock. They employ a combination of tunneling, drilling, and ventilation techniques to reach the trapped workers. The operation was further complicated by the remote location of the tunnel. That lies deep within the mountainous terrain of Uttarakhand state.

Survivor’s Thoughts

Birendra Kishku, a 39-year-old worker, shared, “For the first day or so, everyone inside was very hopeless and sad. We didn’t know if anyone outside knew we were trapped. But when they reached us through the pipe, we got to know what the government was doing to bring us out.”

Subodh Kumar Verma echoed this sentiment, saying that the ongoing rescue efforts provided solace and hope. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the workers by phone, with Saba Ahmed, a worker from the construction firm, describing their bond with the words, “We lived like brothers.”

The collapsed tunnel is part of the ambitious $1.5 billion Char Dham highway project, connecting four Hindu pilgrimage sites. The cause of the cave-in has not been determined, but the region is prone to landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Despite the challenges, the workers’ families eagerly await their return home.

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