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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024
Wednesday May 22, 2024

Survivors relive 17-day ordeal trapped in Indian tunnel: “we were hungry, but we never lost hope”

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41 workers share stories of perseverance and joy after dramatic rescue operation

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Speaking to the media for the first time, survivors shared stories of spending over 400 hours in darkness, without fresh water, air, or sunlight. Chamra Oraon, 32, a worker from Jharkhand, described his attempt to escape the collapsing tunnel, which turned into a struggle for survival. Despite facing restlessness, hunger, and fear, the workers never lost hope.

Oraon mentioned the initial 24-hour wait for food after the collapse, when rescuers sent rice and cardamom seeds through a pre-existing pipe. He expressed joy upon receiving the first morsel, emphasizing the workers’ belief in being rescued. Engaging in activities like playing ludo on a phone, the workers found ways to pass the time.

Relieving and cleaning themselves with natural hill water, the workers maintained faith in God and the collective strength of 41 people awaiting rescue. Emotional scenes unfolded during reunions, such as Manjit, aged 22, being kissed on the forehead by his father.

The Uttarakhand tunnel rescue has drawn national and international attention, shedding light on the risks of building major infrastructure projects in the fragile Himalayan mountains. Landslides are common in the region, and the collapse raised questions about the hazards associated with such constructions.

The prolonged rescue operation involved 652 public workers from national and state agencies, along with international experts and equipment. Various plans, including drilling horizontally and vertically, were executed simultaneously, with rat-hole miners ultimately achieving the breakthrough.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, closely monitoring the operation, commended the workers’ bravery and patience, emphasizing the rescue’s humanitarian and teamwork aspects. The miners who led the final breakthrough received praise for their extraordinary efforts, working non-stop to provide a “new life” to the trapped workers.

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