41 workers trapped in Himalayan tunnel rescued after 17 days

Forty-one construction workers trapped in a North India road tunnel in the Himalayan mountains for 17 days were evacuated Tuesday after a mammoth rescue operation.

The breakthrough, after a series of failed attempts, was achieved by a team of “rat miners” digging manually through the huge mound of debris that filled a section of the tunnel on Nov. 12.

The tunnel caved in on November 12 during work on a $1.5 billion highway project in Uttarakhand. Initial hopes that the men would be rescued within days faded as the operation encountered repeated setbacks in the challenging Himalayan terrain.

The rat-hole miners, experts in a traditional method of coal mining still used widely in India, were called in only on Monday after more than two weeks of failed attempts to reach the stranded workers using heavy machinery.

Multiple teams from different Indian agencies, international tunnelling experts and army engineers were involved in the marathon mission.

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