Indian Rescuers Pull Out All 41 Workers Who Were Trapped In Tunnel For 17 Days

(AP) — All 41 construction workers who were trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in northern India for more than two weeks were pulled out on Tuesday, bringing a happy end to a drawn-out rescue mission that had gripped the country for days.

Locals, relatives and government officials erupted in joy, set off firecrackers and shouted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” — Hindi for “Long live mother India — as smiling workers began emerging from the tunnel entrance.

Officials hung floral garlands around the necks of the first rescued workers as the crowd cheered.

Nitin Gadkari, the country’s minister of road transport and highways, said in a video posted on the social media platform X that he was “completely relieved and happy” after all of the workers were rescued from the Silkyara Tunnel in the northern Indian town of Uttarkashi following the 17-day ordeal.

“This was a well-coordinated effort by multiple agencies, marking one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years,” Gadkari said.

No one was seriously injured or killed when the tunnel collapsed early on the morning of November 12.

The workers were finishing their shifts and many were likely looking forward to celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, that day.

Since early in their ordeal, the workers were provided with food, water and oxygen through pipes, and they emerged healthy, officials said.

They were extracted one by one on a wheeled stretcher that was pulled through a roughly metre-wide (yard-wide) tunnel of welded pipes that crews had pushed through the collapsed dirt and rocks.