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How global media reacted to India’s tunnel rescue: ‘Human labour triumphed over machinery’

‘This happy conclusion came after a day filled with anticipation, as authorities announced that there had been a breakthrough in the rescue operations,’ the BBC reported.

Family members of Anil Bediya, one of the 41 trapped workers who were successfully evacuated from the under-construction Silkyara Tunnel in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, celebrate with school students at Khirabera village, in Ranchi district of the Jharkhand state on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. (PTI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

“HUMAN labour triumphing over machinery.”

This is how the world media described the climax of an incredible and perilous weeks-long rescue operation for 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

As rescuers in India on Tuesday (28) evening successfully pulled out all the workers after their 17-day ordeal, the global media provided live coverage of the dramatic rescue operations.

Read: Gabbar Singh, the man who boosted his colleagues inside trapped tunnel: ‘I will be the last…’

“In the end it was a triumph of human labour over machinery as the specialist rat-hole mining experts managed to manually break through the final 12 metres of rubble, using only hand drills and pulleys,” The Guardian newspaper wrote.

The workers were pulled out through an escape pipe after the last stretch of rubble had been manually drilled by a specialist team of “rat-hole mining” experts who had been flown in to help after the mechanical drill broke down.

Read: PM Modi reacts after India rescues its trapped workers

The dramatic scenes of the first men emerging on stretchers from the entrance of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarkhand’s Uttarkashi came after more than 400 hours, during which the rescue operation hit multiple obstacles, delays and false promises of imminent rescue, the British newspaper said in a detailed report.

“Outside the tunnel, there have been celebrations at the news of the first man coming out of the tunnel,” the BBC reported while providing regular updates on the rescue operation. They were freed after a mammoth rescue operation that overcame many obstacles, it said.

“This happy conclusion came after a day filled with anticipation, as authorities announced that there had been a breakthrough in the rescue operations,” the British public broadcaster said.

Military engineers and miners drill ‘rat hole’ through debris to complete a painstaking extraction mission, said London-based daily The Telegraph in its lead story.

A portion of the tunnel collapsed on November 12, blocking the exit for the workers who were inside. Food, medicines and other essentials were sent to them through a six-inch pipe pushed through the rubble of the collapsed portion. So-called rat miners were brought in on Monday to drill through the rocks, gravel and metal obstacles by hand from inside a narrow evacuation pipe that pushed through the debris after machinery failed, France 24 reported.

The New York Times in its report said initial drilling efforts were hampered by additional falling debris. And by Day 13, the rescue effort appeared in disarray as an American-made auger machine broke down with less than 20 meters to go in the drilling.

As workers tried to extricate it, officials initiated backup plans, including one in which workers began drilling vertically from the mountaintop. New machines were flown in from different parts of the country. But, in the end, the rescue effort — which also involved international tunnelling experts — found success in manual drilling by “rathole miners” in the final stretch of the path that had been mostly cleared by the auger machine.

The rescue operation faced hiccups even in its final hours, threatening to derail the growing confidence of family members who waited in anticipation of their relatives being pulled to safety, it said.

(With PTI inputs)

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