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May 19, 2024

All 41 Workers Rescued After Being Trapped for Over 2 Weeks in Collapsed Tunnel in India’s Himalayas

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Nov 29, 2023

On Tuesday November 28th, all 41 construction workers who had been trapped for over 2 weeks in a collapsed tunnel in India’s Himalayan region of Uttarakhand were successfully rescued. The saga captivated India and made headlines around the world.

Lead Up to the Crisis

The tunnel is located near the Tapovan Vishnugad hydroelectric project at Chamoli district. It had been under construction for the past 2 years along the Dhauliganga river, with a target completion date of 2023.

The region has a long history of tunnel collapses, including the 2013 Kedarnath floods which killed over 5000 people after excessive rainfalls. Locals and activists had warned about the fragility of young Himalayan mountains and the dangers of unchecked development.

On October 28th, a part of the tunnel collapsed trapping 41 workers inside. For the first 17 days, rescue teams struggled to break through the debris and establish contact with the trapped miners. Food, water, medical supplies and oxygen were passed through small gaps to keep them alive.

Breakthrough

Finally on Tuesday November 28th, rescuers managed to carve a hole large enough to pull the workers out one-by-one through a roughly 2×2 foot cavity.

The complex "rat-hole" tunnelling rescue technique was led by a team of 12 Indian engineers Experienced in the practice. They worked for over 27 hours straight using special equipment to puncture down vertically through the fallen rubble and debris.

The first miner emerged at around 5:30pm local time after spending 17 days in the collapsed tunnel, sparking emotional scenes.

Over the next 7 hours, all 41 workers were pulled out safely by a team of soldiers from the Indian army stationed at the mouth of the tunnel. They had trucks ready to rush the workers down the winding mountain highway to the district hospital.

5:30pm - First worker rescued  
7:30pm - 20 workers evacuated
10:00pm - All 41 workers pulled from tunnel

Reunions and Recovery

At the hospital, the miners were reunited with emotional family members who had kept vigil for over two weeks. They recounted their terrifying ordeal inside the collapsed tunnel, surviving in the cold on water dripping from rocks and packs of "muri" (puffed rice). While some are still recovering, most made it out with only cuts and bruises.

The successful rescue operation sparked celebrations across India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the rescue team and said it was an emotional moment for the nation. Other politicians also weighed in with praise on social media.

What Next

An investigation into the collapse is now underway. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has promised a safety review of all upcoming tunnel and power projects in the state.

Experts say more care needs to be taken to stabilize tunnels in the fragile Himalayan region with reinforced concrete and ventilation systems. Work accidents are common in India often due to lax safety standards and the use of unskilled migrant labour.

For now, rescue leader Arnold Dix plans to visit a temple to give thanks. And 41 miners trapped in darkness get to see their families again and celebrate a new lease on life.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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