Ambulances arrived near the tunnel where 41 workers were still trapped

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Ambulances were on standby on Thursday morning, November 22, ready to intervene near the road tunnel where 41 Indian workers had been trapped for almost two weeks.

Bulldozers and excavators have been working since November 12, the day of the collapse of a tunnel under construction in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, to push through the rubble. They intended to drive a massive steel tube at least 57 meters long from the earth and rocks that separated the walled workers from the open air. On Wednesday, a sudden and rapid breakthrough occurred before slowing to just 12 meters from the target.

Rescue efforts were complicated and slow

At the Silkyara tunnel entrance, an AFP journalist noted on Thursday morning that there was great excitement and ambulances and a field hospital were ready to treat the miners. The road was reopened so drilling machines could dig out the final section, Praveen Yadav, a member of the rescue team, told reporters Thursday morning. “We cut and cleared the way“, he said, adding that the exercise would be used again to achieve the long-awaited final breakthrough, which rescue teams hope to achieve in the coming hours.

On several occasions, the government has shown caution, considering that developments are “subject to change due to technical issues, difficult Himalayan terrain and unforeseen events“.

Visual contact occurred for the first time on Tuesday, thanks to an endoscopic camera sent by rescuers through a pipe through which air, food and water were regularly delivered to the trapped workers. Their families gathered outside the site where the Hindu temple was erected. A Hindu priest prays for the men still waiting for help. “The day they come out of the tunnel, for us, it will be the greatest and happiest daysaid Chanchal Singh Bisht, 35, whose cousin Pushkar Singh Ary, 24, was trapped inside.

From the start, rescue efforts were complicated and slowed by falling debris and damage to drilling machines that were crucial to rescuing workers.

Serena Hoyles

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