All 41 Indian workers rescued from tunnel after 17 days

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Indian workers were greeted with wild cheers and flower garlands Tuesday as rescuers safely brought out all 41 from the collapsed Himalayan road tunnel where they were trapped after a marathon 17-day engineering operation.

With beaming smiles, the rescued men were welcomed as heroes after being hauled through 57 metres (187 feet) of steel pipe on stretchers specially
fitted with wheels, where they were greeted by state officials before embracing their families.

“Hail mother India!” crowds outside the tunnel cheered, as news spread that
all had made it safely out of the under-construction tunnel in the Himalayan
state of Uttarakhand, where they had been incarcerated since a partial collapse on November 12.

Relatives outside celebrated, after previous hopes of reaching the men were repeatedly dashed by falling debris and the breakdown of multiple drilling
machines, in a rescue operation the government said took place in “challenging Himalayan terrain”. “We are thankful to God and the rescuers who worked hard to save them,”

Naiyer Ahmad told AFP, whose younger brother Sabah Ahmad was among the trapped workers, and who had been camping out in bitterly cold temperatures at the site
for over two weeks.

“We are extremely happy, no words can explain it,” said Musarrat Jahan, the
wife of one rescued worker Sabah Ahmad told AFP by phone from Bihar state, where she had been waiting desperately for news.

“Not only my husband got a new life, we also got a new life. We will never
forget it”.

– ‘Now to celebrate’ –
Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the workers in a statement that their
“courage and patience is inspiring everyone”.
“Patience, hard work and faith won”, said Uttarakhand state chief minister
Pushkar Singh Dhami, praising the “prayers of tens of millions of countrymen
and the tireless work of all the rescue teams.”