(RepublicanNews.org) – A group of 41 miners who were trapped for 17 days under a partially collapsed Himalayan highway tunnel in India has been rescued, the country’s transportation ministry has announced.
The men were trapped under the road in the Uttarakhand state in the north of the country, with their freedom coming on November 29th after having been pinned underground by a huge mound of debris. A section of the tunnel collapsed on November 12th, with multiple efforts failing before their eventual rescue more than two weeks later.
Their freedom finally came after a team of 24 “rat miners” dug through the debris using traditional coal mining methods still widely used in India, despite a nationwide ban on rat mining being implanted in 2014 amid safety and environmental concerns. The team, digging through a narrow strip manually, began on November 28th after previous efforts using heavy machinery failed.
Each of the rescued miners was brought through a narrow passageway on a stretcher. On emergence from the tunnel, they were greeted with flowers and jubilant scenes from onlookers before being taken to hospital for further treatment.
Since the collapse, thought to be triggered by a nearby landslide, rescuers had tried to drill through the debris using a large auger machine. However, the machine became stuck and eventually broke down in the rubble, with the removal operation taking several days alone.
Throughout the ordeal, the trapped men were provided with oxygen, food, and medicine through a small pipe drilled shortly after the collapse. Later on, a wider pipe allowed them to receive hot meals and a medical endoscopic camera, with life inside the tunnel broadcast to the world.
Following the rescue, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said its success was “making everyone emotional”, while the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari praised the “dedicated endeavors of the rescue teams” which led to “favorable results.” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami also praised the “tireless work” of rescuers.
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