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Survival against the Odds: Jharkhand Worker Recounts 17-Day Ordeal in Collapsed Tunnel

"We licked water dripping from rocks to quench our thirst and survived on muri for the first 10 days," Bediya said, adding that the situation seemed dire during the initial days of the disaster. He emphasized the desperation of the trapped workers, who resorted to drinking water from the rocks at the suggestion of their supervisors.

By Rekha Joshi 
Updated Date

Anil Bediya, one of the 41 laborers rescued from the collapsed Uttarakhand tunnel after a 17-day ordeal, shared the harrowing details of survival, including licking water from rocks and subsisting on ‘muri’ (puffed rice). The 22-year-old from Jharkhand described the nightmarish experience, recalling the loud shrieks and initial loss of hope when a portion of the Silkyara tunnel on Uttarakhand’s Char Dham route collapsed on November 12.

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“We licked water dripping from rocks to quench our thirst and survived on muri for the first 10 days,” Bediya said, adding that the situation seemed dire during the initial days of the disaster. He emphasized the desperation of the trapped workers, who resorted to drinking water from the rocks at the suggestion of their supervisors.

Bediya, who is now recovering in a Uttarakhand hospital, expressed gratitude when authorities established contact after nearly 70 hours, bringing a glimmer of hope. Describing the ordeal, he explained how the workers prayed for early rescue and survived the initial days with minimal resources.

The situation became more bearable after the first 10 days, with regular supplies of fruits, hot meals like rice and dal, and water bottles reaching the trapped workers. Bediya reflected on the collective prayers and the relief they felt when voices from outside the tunnel indicated the possibility of rescue.

In the village of Khirabeda, where several workers, including Bediya, had embarked on the journey to Uttarkashi, there were scenes of celebration after the successful rescue. Families, who had endured anxiety and uncertainty, were overjoyed, and even a paralyzed father, Shravan Bediya, celebrated in his wheelchair as his son Rajendra was among those rescued.

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The rescue operation, which began on November 12 following a tunnel collapse on Uttarakhand’s Char Dham route, concluded successfully, bringing relief and happiness to the families and the entire community.

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