RNS: In a monumental effort that spanned 17 days and involved multiple agencies, the massive rescue operation to free 41 workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara has come to a triumphant conclusion.
The successful extraction of all the labourers from the tunnel has brought a collective sigh of relief across the nation.
Amidst numerous setbacks, including the failure of advanced machinery, the rescuers resorted to the prohibited “rat-hole” mining technique to bore through nearly 60 metres of rock, which posed a grave threat to the trapped workers.
All the rescued individuals have been transported to a makeshift hospital in Chinyalisaur for comprehensive medical evaluations and to acclimatise to the significantly lower temperatures outside, which have persisted over the past two weeks.
The mission involved three teams from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), who ventured into the tunnel to retrieve the trapped workers successfully. Additionally, helicopters stand ready to provide urgent medical attention if any of the rescued workers require it.
According to medical professionals overseeing the situation, all the workers are in good health.
In emergency situations, the labourers can be airlifted either to the Chinyalisaur hospital, situated 30 kilometres away, or to the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh, which is approximately 160 kilometres from the tunnel site.
The first three workers to be rescued were brought out using specially modified stretchers, manually lowered down a two-meter-wide pipe inserted into holes drilled into the hillside.
A temporary emergency medical centre has been established in Chinyalisaur to provide medical care to the 41 workers who had been trapped underground in the Silkyara tunnel since November 12.
At the site of the tunnel collapse, 41 ambulances—one for each worker—stand ready to transport them to the Chinyalisaur hospital via a “green corridor” organized by local police to ensure swift access to medical care.
A makeshift medical facility has also been established at the entrance of the collapsed tunnel, offering initial aid and emergency services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended the successful Uttarakhand tunnel rescue operation, hailing it as a remarkable demonstration of humanity and teamwork.
In a tweet, PM Modi expressed his admiration, saying, “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.”
He further added, “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.”