Escape tunnel

An escape tunnel is a form of secret passage used as part of an escape from siege or captivity. In medieval times such tunnels are usually constructed by the builders of castles or palaces who wish to have an escape route if their domain is under attack. In the case of prisoners, escape tunnels are dug to be free of captivity.

In road and rail tunnels, narrower escape tunnels are provided to enable people to escape on foot in the event of a fire or other accident in the main tunnel. For example, between the two main bores of the Channel Tunnel is an access tunnel large enough to take a fire engine.

Medieval escape tunnels

Throughout the British Isles and much of northern Europe escape tunnels were often part of the intrinsic design of fortified houses and palaces. The tunnel would typically be one half to two kilometers long and open in a location not readily visible to attackers. Examples of these tunnels are at Muchalls Castle (Scotland) and the Bishops Palace at Exeter (England).

Prison escapes

Successful escapes

The following escapes were at least a partial success, with prisoners escaping via tunnels:

Successful Tunnel-Based Prison Escapes
Prison Location Year Number of Successful Escapees Length of Tunnel Details
Stalag Luft III, Żagań, Nazi Germany (now Poland) 1943 3 30m "The Wooden Horse", Lieutenant Michael Codner, Flight Lieutenant Eric Williams, and Flight Lieutenant Oliver Philpot
Stalag Luft III, Żagań, Nazi Germany (now Poland) 1944 76 102m Led by Roger Bushell during World War II. The story was made into a film: The Great Escape.
Island Farm, Bridgend, southern Wales, UK 1945 70 21 m The prison held Axis prisoners of war during World War II.
Carandiru prison, São Paulo, Brazil. 2001 100 (approx) unreported Moises Teixeira da Silva, a convicted robber
Dugaluft, Frankfurt, Germany 1941 1 unknown Peter Butterworth was an English comic actor.
Kırşehir, Turkey 1988 18 118m Turkish & Kurdish political prisoners (Bektas Karakaya, Hasan H. Yildirim, Cumali Çataltepe, Selman Altinoz, Adem Kutuk, Sait Keles)
Vellore Fort, India 1995 43 TODO Tamil Tiger inmates.
Yemen 2006 23 TODO Inmates of Political Security Organization, including convicted mastermind of the USS Cole Bombing Jamal al-Badawi.
Burail, India 1998 3 TODO Escapees: Jagtar Singh Hawara, Jagtar Singh Tara, Paramjit Singh Beora
Sarposa Prison, Kandahar, Afghanistan 2011 476 320m All but one were Taliban members.
Penal del Altiplano, Almoloya de Juarez, State of Mexico 2015 1 1500 m Escapee: Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, "El Chapo Guzmán", who originally was captured in 1993 in Guatemala and escaped from a Mexican federal maximum-security prison in 2001. He was rearrested by Mexican Authorities on 22 February 2014 in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México, but escaped on July 11, 2015.

Unsuccessful escapes

  • Prisoners at Camp Bucca, a U.S.-run prison in Iraq, completed their tunnelling but did not make their bid for freedom, with the tunnel being discovered in March 2005 .

Fictional escapes

See also

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