Uttarkashi, November 28
In a remarkable feat, the 400-hour ordeal of 41 construction workers trapped in the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel here reached a positive conclusion on Tuesday evening. The unprecedented rescue operation, a first of its kind in the country, saw all workers evacuated safely, bringing relief and cheer all around.
The rescue effort, involving over 200 experts from various government and private agencies as well as rat-hole miners from Uttar Pradesh lasted 17 days. The workers had got trapped on November 12. The workers, who are reported to be in good health, will undergo medical observation as a precaution.
The multi-agency operation included the intricate task of drilling through rubble and iron bars, showcasing the collaborative efforts of professionals from India and abroad. A steel chute, lining a 60-metre escape passage, facilitated the workers’ safe exit. The rescue met with applause and patriotic chants from onlookers.
Union Minister Gen VK Singh (retd) and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami personally welcomed the rescued workers as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel brought them out. The first worker, Vijay Kumar, emerged to a cheering crowd, marking the beginning of a sequence where each worker was safely pulled out on a wheeled stretcher.
Inside a makeshift hospital set up within the tunnel, a team of doctors awaited the rescued workers for immediate medical examination.
The workers were trapped since Diwali morning (November 12) due to a landslide that caused a section of the 4.5-kilometre tunnel to collapse just 200 metres from the entrance.
A crucial breakthrough came when rat-miners from Uttar Pradesh played a pivotal role in manual drilling after a US-made auger machine faced technical issues. The rat-miners successfully completed the drilling, creating a passage through the rubble, allowing for the workers’ evacuation. The NDRF team then executed the evacuation process using specially designed wheeled stretchers, with ambulances ready to transport them to a medical facility in Chinyalisaur.
Dhami, during a media interaction after the operation, said he had fulfilled the task assigned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who emphasised on providing medical assistance to all workers and arranging for their return home. The workers will remain under medical observation and a decision regarding their return home will be made based on consultation with doctors.
Despite a temporary setback on Tuesday evening when muck obstructed the main pipe, causing a two-hour delay, the expert team persevered, successfully inserting a 900 mm pipe through the rubble to ensure the smooth evacuation of the trapped workers.
Most Read In 24 Hours
Don't MissView All
Farmers' protest: Several injured, vehicles damaged as farmers, police clash at Kheri Chopta in Haryana's Hisar
Police use tear gas shells to prevent farmers from reaching ...
Farmer leaders reject government offer of Rs 1 crore compensation to deceased farmer’s kin; adamant on registration of FIR
They say they will not allow the post-mortem to be done
The call was given by SKM on Thursday to mourn the death of ...
The PIL seeks directions to ‘relevant authorities to take im...