After 17 harrowing days of entrapment in a tunnel, workers are now finally rescued and taken to a temporary hospital for medical check-ups. 41 labourers trapped inside the tunnel in Uttarkashi have been evacuated from the collapsed portion of the tunnel.
The workers were provided with warm clothes to get accommodated to the temperature outside which dropped significantly over the two weeks. An ambulance waiting at the scene rushed the rescued workers around 8 pm on November 28, 2023. A community health centre with beds for each worker was ready at Chinyalisuar.
The breakthrough first came when rat-hole miners were brought in the previous evening. Twelve of them set to work by manually digging the rocks over the last 10-12 metre stretch. Lt. Syed Ata Hasnain of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) commended the phenomenal job done by the rat-hole miners who dug 10 metres in less than 24 hours.
Before this, the American Auger Drill was being used to drill the stretch. However, the attempt was stopped as the blades were affected by the rocky debris and iron rods that made up part of the ceiling.
For over two weeks, multiple agencies tried their hand at the rubble and piles of concrete obstructing the tunnel. They used various drilling equipment and excavators. Rocks were showering from the unplastered roof, which slowed down the rescuers on several occasions.
The tunnel on the Brahmakhal-Yamunotri National Highway had first collapsed on November 12 around 4 am, trapping 41 labourers working there on the Chardham project. The tunnel between 205 and 260 metres had collapsed on the Silkyara side, the debris falling over the 60-metre stretch, trapping the working labourers.
The workers, fortunately, had power and water supply in that section of the tunnel but their way out was still blocked. Some theories claim that a landslide in the Himalayan region may have caused the tunnel collapse. Others claim the construction inside the tunnel itself may have contributed to the collapse. The authorities have assured that a detailed investigation will take place to determine the actual cause of the collapse.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) brought out the initial workers on stretchers after their representative did a primary evaluation inside the tunnel on November 28. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh and Union Minister VK Singh arrived at the scene to welcome the workers and applaud their perseverance.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also stated, "I am completely relieved and happy as 41 trapped labourers in the Silkyara Tunnel Collapse have been successfully rescued". He also credited the multiple agencies who carried out a "well-coordinated effort, making this one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years."
Edited by: Vicky Muzio
Photo Courtesy: Image by dekhbhai
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