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Updated Nov 28, 2023, 10:30am EST
South Asia

All 41 workers rescued from collapsed tunnel in India

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel wait to enter a tunnel during rescue operations for trapped workers, after the tunnel collapsed, in Uttarkashi in the northern state of Uttarakhand, India, November 28, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
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The News

Indian rescuers have extracted all 41 construction workers who were trapped in a tunnel in the Himalayas since it collapsed 16 days ago.

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Know More

The 41 men became stuck after a landslide blockaded the tunnel’s exit on Nov. 12. Authorities had been supplying them with oxygen, food, and water while rescuers tried to drill through.

The workers were evacuated through a series of three-foot wide pipes that were laid through the debris. They were to be rolled out on stretchers, and receive medical attention at a field hospital that has been established nearby.

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A panel of experts investigating the collapse found that the tunnel had no emergency exit installed, and was built through a geological fault.

Rescue efforts have been beset by issues: Loose rocks, rubble, and dirt have made it challenging to drill through the blockage, and a drilling machine brought in by emergency crews broke down late last week.

More than 197 feet of rubble separated emergency workers from the construction team.

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Step Back

The tunnel was being constructed by low-income workers from India’s poorest states.

Local governments have criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response to the crisis: ”Safety measures are not followed,” Hemant Soren, chief minister of the eastern state of Jharkhand, home to 15 of the 41 men, told Reuters. “They take workers from poor and backward states for such risky projects and if something happens to them there, who cares?”

The project is part of the large-scale Char Dham highway project that will connect four important Hindu pilgrimage sites.

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