uk DEHRADUN/ NEW DELHI : After rescue efforts that lasted for 17 days, all 41 labourers trapped at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi since Diwali, were evacuated on Tuesday evening. Forty-one labourers, trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand for 17 days, have been rescued. The breakthrough came after rat-miners were brought in last evening and manually dug the last stretch.
The rescue teams on Tuesday achieved a major breakthrough as all 41 trapped workers were rescued from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. The laying of pipes through the rubble at Silkyara tunnel was completed after hard work of 17 days this morning. Rat-hole miners were seen stepping out of the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi with their drillers. Besides, NDRF and SDRF teams were seen entering with their gear to evacuate the 41 trapped workers at the collapse site.
“I feel relieved and happy to learn that all the workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand have been rescued. Their travails over 17 days, as the rescue effort met with obstacles, have been a testament of human endurance,” posted President Droupadi Murmu. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and took stock of the Uttarkashi tunnel operation which ended on Tuesday evening, with the rescue of 41 trapped workers.
“The success of the rescue operation of our labourer brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to say to the friends who were trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience is inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health,” Prime Miister Narendra Modi posted on X, formerly Twitter.
A successful rescue operation by NDRF and SDRF teams has led to the extraction of all the 41 workers who were trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand since November 12. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, Union minister Nitin Gadkari and other officials are also at the rescue site. ‘Rat-hole’ miners from Uttar Pradesh had teamed up with the Army for the task of manually burrowing through the remaining 10-12 meters of rubble that separated the workers from freedom. Stay with TOI for all updates:
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami addressed a press conference following the evacuation of all 41 trapped workers at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. “The shortest people were evacuated first, followed by the tallest among all,” he told the media, describing the rescue plan.
All 41 workers have been evacuated from the collapsed portion of the tunnel and they have been taken to the temporary hospital put up inside the tunnel for medical check-up and acclimatisation to the temperature outside, which has dropped much over the last two weeks.
The first few workers were brought out by modified stretchers after the personnel of the NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force) went in and did a primary evaluation of their condition. Doctors say all the workers are in good health.
Besides the temporary hospital, elaborate preparations have been made for the rescue. An Air Force Chinook chopper is standing by for emergencies and a green corridor has been created to transfer the workers to a hospital 35 km away at Chinyalisaur.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lauded the efforts made by the rescue team at the Silkyara tunnel. “All the labourers who were trapped between life and death for the last 17 days in the Silkyara Tunnel of Uttarkashi have come out safely. Salute to each and every brave person engaged in the rescue operation. You have made the prayers of the entire country successful. Labor brothers, get well soon. Many congratulations to his family,” she said in a tweet.
‘Very happy’: Mother of Vishal, one of the workers rescued from Uttarkashi tunnel Vishal was one of the 41 workers rescued from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi. Her mother in a video on Tuesday said, “I am very happy with the govts of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the 41 workers evacuated from the Silkyara tunnel will be kept under medical supervision. “They (workers) all have come out from a different environment and condition so we will do as per the advice of the doctors. First they will be kept under medical supervision and their monitoring will be done. No one is critical,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lauded efforts made by the NDRF, Army and other agencies to rescue the 41 trapped men at the Uttarkashi tunnel. “The hard work of NDRF, Army and other agencies has paid off and all the workers trapped in the tunnel of Uttarakhand have been rescued safely. I salute the efforts and hard work of all those involved in this operation who worked day and night to make it successful. ” he said in a tweet.
“Rat miners” — labourers used to drilling narrow shafts as part of a primitive and currently illegal method of coal extraction — had to manually dig the rocks over a 12-metre last stretch that proved too tough for an American Augur drill and several other devices. The American Auger drill — a corkscrew-like device with a rotary blade at the front end — which drilled around 46.8 metres, had to be withdrawn as its blades got fouled up by the rocky debris and iron rods that formed part of the tunnel ceiling.
Around 4 am on November 12, a 200-km area of a tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway had collapsed, trapping 41 labourers working there in a 400 meter buffer zone. The rescue workers have been providing them with food, water, medical supplies and other essentials through pipes. The 4.5-km tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway, which will join Silkyara and Dandalgaon in Uttarkashi, is part of the Chardham project. Once finished, it is expected to cut down the distance by 26 km.
(Bureau Report with Inputs from VIPIN DHULIYA in Dehradun ).