SILKYARA, India, Nov 28 (AFP) - Indian workers were greeted with wild cheers and flower garlands Tuesday (Nov 28) 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 57m 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 Nov 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 get a new life, we also got a new life. We will never forget it".
Photo from AFP