An intense rescue operation to evacuate the 41 trapped workers in a tunnel in Uttarakhand's Silkyara ended in a success on Tuesday (November 28) after 17 days of massive efforts by multiple agencies. All the labourers were brought out of the tunnel, bringing a sigh of relief to the nation.
After several high-tech machines failed, the rescuers relied on the banned manual "rat-hole"-mining technique to drill through the nearly 60 metres of rock that threatened to bury the workers.
Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force, or NDRF, went inside the tunnel to bring out the trapped workers.
Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had gone down the pipe first to assess the condition of the trapped men and guide them through rescue protocols.
Each worker was strapped to the stretcher that was then manually pulled up through 60 metres of rock and debris.
All the rescued workers have been taken to the make-shift hospital in Chinyalisaur for medical check-ups and acclimatisation to the temperature outside, which has dropped much over the last two weeks.
The India Air Force (IAF) has kept its Chinook helicopter on standby at Chinyalisaur airstrip, about 30 km away from the Silkyara tunnel, to airlift workers after their rescue from the tunnel.
The first three workers to be rescued were brought out on specially modified stretchers; these were lowered manually down a two-metre-wide pipe inserted into holes drilled into the hillside.
An emergency medical centre has been set up in Chinyalisaur to treat the workers trapped in the tunnel since Nov 12.
Forty-one ambulances were on standby at the site of the tunnel collapse, one for each worker, to bring them to the Chinyalisaur hospital by road.
Local police organised a 'green corridor' to ensure each ambulance reaches the hospital as quickly as possible.
A makeshift medical centre has also been set up - at the mouth of the collapsed tunnel - to provide first aid and emergency care.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue operation and said the success of this mission has set an amazing example of humanity and teamwork.
उत्तरकाशी में हमारे श्रमिक भाइयों के रेस्क्यू ऑपरेशन की सफलता हर किसी को भावुक कर देने वाली है।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 28, 2023
टनल में जो साथी फंसे हुए थे, उनसे मैं कहना चाहता हूं कि आपका साहस और धैर्य हर किसी को प्रेरित कर रहा है। मैं आप सभी की कुशलता और उत्तम स्वास्थ्य की कामना करता हूं।
Lauding the effort, PM Modi tweeted: "The success of the rescue operation to evacuate our labourer brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to tell my friends who were trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience are inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health."
"It is a matter of great satisfaction that after a long wait these friends of ours will now meet their loved ones. The patience and courage that all these families have shown in this challenging time cannot be appreciated enough."
"I also salute the spirit of all the people associated with this rescue operation. His bravery and determination have given new life to our labor brothers. Everyone involved in this mission has set an amazing example of humanity and teamwork," PM Modi said in a long post.
President Droupadi Murmu said, "She is relieved and happy to learn that all the workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand have been rescued."
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. The nation salutes their resilience and remains grateful…— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) November 28, 2023
"Their travails over 17 days, as the rescue effort met with obstacles, have been a testament of human endurance," the President posted on X.
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