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Rescue work at the Silkyara Tunnel in the Indian state of Uttarakhand: The end of a thriller

Photo: AP

In India, emergency services have freed 41 workers from a collapsed highway tunnel after more than two weeks. Rescue teams brought them outside on rolling stretchers through a 90-centimeter-wide pipe that had previously been laboriously drilled through the rubble.

The men are doing well under the circumstances, said an employee of the disaster control, according to the news agency dpa. Ambulances were supposed to take the workers to a clinic for a health check.

The rescue work had been marked by many setbacks. The last few meters of the rubble were finally cleared away by hand by specialized miners together with the army. In the end, all the big machines had failed. At the same time, extreme caution was required to avoid further collapses, for example due to vibrations during the drilling.

Supply via a pipe

He was "relieved and happy" that the workers were "successfully rescued," said Nitin Gadkari, the minister of road transport. It was one of the "most important rescue operations of recent years".

The tunnel had partially collapsed in the early morning of November 12 during the shift change. All construction workers survived the disaster. On several occasions, the authorities had assured that it would not be long before all those trapped were rescued. The workers were supplied with oxygen, water, food and medicine via a pipe.

The site of the accident is near the small town of Uttarkashi in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, a popular tourist region with many Hindu temples. The tunnel was intended to improve transport links there.