Rescuers pulled out all 41 workers who were trapped for 17 days in a mountain tunnel in northern India on Tuesday.
A crowd of people around the tunnel cheered and shouted, “Long live mother India.” Officials put flowers around the necks of the workers as the crowd celebrated with firecrackers.
Nitin Gadkari, the minister of road transport and highways, said on X, “I am very happy that all the 41 trapped workers have come out and their lives have been saved.”
The workers were pulled out through a passageway made from welded pipes that had been pushed through dirt and rocks to reach them.
One of the rescuers, Devender, told New Delhi Television that “the trapped workers were overjoyed when they spotted us in the tunnel. Some rushed toward me and hugged me.”
A landslide on November 12 caused part of a tunnel they were building in Uttarkashi to collapse. And they were stuck about 200 meters from the entrance. The men survived for more than two weeks on food and oxygen that was sent through steel pipes only 15 centimeters wide.
Kirti Panwar is a state government spokesperson. Panwar said a large drilling machine opened up about 47 of the 60 meters needed to reach the workers before it broke down on Friday. Rescuers then worked by hand overnight from Monday into Tuesday using digging tools and drills.
Many of the workers who were trapped are migrant workers who came from around India for the job. As word spread that the workers were close to freeing the trapped men, family members traveled long distances to gather at the tunnel and waited to see their loved ones.
Officials said the rescued workers were treated inside the 13-meter-wide tunnel. After a first health check, they were taken to a hospital about 30 kilometers away.
"Their condition is first-class and absolutely fine ... just like yours or mine." said Wakil Hassan, a rescue team leader.
The tunnel is part of the Char Dham highway. It is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s largest projects. The plan is to build a network of roads covering almost 900 kilometers to connect four important Hindu religious sites. Some building experts, however, are concerned about the project. They say the work could create more landslides and hurt some small towns in the Himalayas which are already built on top of landslide debris.
I’m Dan Novak.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and Reuters.
Words in This Story
firecracker –n. a small paper cylinder that is filled with an explosive and that produces a loud noise when it explodes
weld –v. to join pieces of metal together by heating the edges until they begin to melt and then pressing them together
hug –v. to put your arms around someone especially as a way of showing love or friendship
first-class –adj. of the best quality : of the highest excellence
debris –n. the pieces that are left after something has been destroyed