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Uttarkashi biggest rescue op: All 41 trapped tunnel workers successfully evacuated after 17 days

In a major effort by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Border Roads Organisation (BRO), project executing agency National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jointly executed the rescue efforts.

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Uttarkashi/Uttarakhand: In India’s biggest rescue operation ever, all 41 trapped tunnel workers successfully evacuated after 17 days. Cheers and jubilation erupted as rescuers saved the 41 construction workers. 41 laborers trapped since November 12 in the Silkyara-Dandalgaon Tunnel under construction in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. Rescue team member Harpal Singh said that the first break through was found at 7.05 pm. After the pipe pushing work was completed across the debris, preparations began to evacuate the workers safely. NDRF personnel went inside to rescue the workers. One by one all 41 laborers were taken out.

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In a major effort by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), Border Roads Organisation (BRO), project executing agency National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jointly executed the rescue efforts.

Rescue workers broke through the 60-metre stretch of rubble in the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand on Tuesday noon using rat-hole mining technique. The trapped workers were extricated through a passageway made of welded pipes that rescuers had previously pushed through the dirt and rocks.

The workers were brought out on specially modified stretchers; these were lowered manually down a two-metre-wide pipe inserted into holes drilled into the hillside. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami was at the spot, hugging the workers as they came out.

Moments before the labourers came out of the tunnel, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami took to X and said, “As a result of the immense grace of Baba Baukh Nag Ji, prayers of crores of countrymen and the tireless work of all the rescue teams engaged in the rescue operation, the work of laying pipes in the tunnel to take out the workers has been completed. Soon all the labour brothers will be taken out.”

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The ambulances – 41 of them, one for each worker – moved out in batches from the tunnel site with the rescued workers for the emergency medical facilities set up in Chinyalisaur, around 30 km away.

As soon as the first workers came out of the tunnel, the rescue personnel and those at the site welcomed them with garlands, sweets, and cheers. Families of the trapped workers rejoiced after meeting their loved ones for the first time in 17 days. The rescued workers then spoke to their families back home.

PM Modi lauds the bravery of workers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in praising the courage and patience of the trapped workers and their families and the bravery and determination of the rescue personnel.

Govt announces Rs 1 lakh for each rescued worker
Following the triumphant rescue operation that liberated 41 workers from Uttarkashi’s Silkyara Tunnel, Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami underscored key initiatives to aid the recovered individuals. In a press conference, CM Dhami announced a Rs. 1 lakh financial assistance package for each worker, urging their employers to grant 15 to 30 days of wage-free leave. Additionally, plans were unveiled for the construction of the Baba Baidyanath Temple at the tunnel’s entrance, aligning with central government directives for tunnel safety.

After their emergence, CM Dhami conducted health checkups for the workers and advocated a comprehensive review of all ongoing tunnel projects in Uttarakhand. Expressing gratitude for global support, especially during challenges with machinery, Dhami emphasized the workers’ physical well-being and medical supervision post-rescue.

President Draupadi Murmu also expressed relief and happiness over the successful rescue and praised the collective resilience. She appreciated the patience of the workers during the 17-day mission and praised their courage in building the critical infrastructure. The prompt response and support measures of the Uttarakhand government underline its commitment towards the recovery and welfare of workers following the recent tunnel incident.

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