Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: 41 Workers Rescued After 17 Days; How Did It Happen? Obstacles Faced & More

After a long wait of 17 days, all the 41 workers were rescued safely out of the Uttarakhand tunnel.

by Vaishalee Kalvankar
Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: 41 Workers Rescued After 17 Days; How Did It Happen? Obstacles Faced & More

After waiting for 17 long days, 41 workers finally came out of the Uttarakhand tunnel on Tuesday night. This was one of the most historic moments, as the hard work of the drillers and the prayers of a billion Indians finally paid off. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh were present to greet and laud all the brave workers as well as the drillers who drilled the tunnel. 

PM Modi Spoke To The Rescued Uttarakhand Tunnel Workers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the 41 workers over the phone shortly after they were rescued from the Uttarkashi tunnel collapse site on Tuesday night. He praised them for their bravery throughout the 17 days they were stuck inside the tunnel and congratulated them on their successful escape. As they patiently awaited the arrival of the rescue team, PM Modi commended the workers for sticking together.

Modi was also informed by the workers about their lives within the collapsing tunnel. Representing others, a worker stated that they never experienced a sense of hopelessness. They never felt afraid or helpless, he claimed. 

He talked about how they used to go for walks, do yoga, and eat together, and that they were 41 and used to stay together all the time. He also thanked the chief minister and the Uttarakhand administration on behalf of the workers for their tireless efforts. 

Also Read: Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: 12 Metres More To Be Dug For Rescue; Operation In Its Final Stage

How The Workers Got Trapped?

The Center’s ambitious Char Dham project, which includes the 4.5 km tunnel, aims to connect Uttarakhand’s four major Hindu shrines—Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri—all year round. 

This tunnel, also called the Silkyara tunnel, is located in the Uttarkashi district and connects the towns of Silkyara and Dandalgaon. One of the longest tunnels beneath the Char Dham project, it has two lanes. A total of 1.75 km from the opposite side and about 2.4 km from the Silkyara side of the tunnel are still under development.

A part of the tunnel that was located between 205 and 260 meters from the Silkyara side collapsed on November 12. The workers who got trapped were those who had crossed the 260-meter mark as the exit got blocked. Luckily for them, there was power and water available in the section of the tunnel where they were stuck.

 Also Read: Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse Updates: Drilling Progress, Aids Provided, UK CM’s Visit & More

The Rescue Plan

The original plan for the multi-agency coordinated rescue effort called for using the skills of international tunnelling specialists to safely remove workers by horizontal drilling. However, when high-tech devices, or augers, failed to drill through the almost 60 meters of rock that threatened to bury the workers, the operation’s last phase resorted to the outlawed manual “rat-hole” mining technique. 

Rescuers had earlier forced a route consisting of welded pipes through boulders, via which the workmen were pulled out.

How Were Food And Medicines Supplied?

The rescuers broke through the debris of the collapsed Silkyara tunnel and managed to push through a six-inch-wide pipeline. This was a significant achievement that enabled them to supply more food and may perhaps allow for real-time visuals of the 41 trapped workers.

The segment of the tunnel that was beyond the debris of the collapsed section of the under-construction tunnel on the Char Dham route in Uttarakhand was receiving oxygen and supplies such as dry food and medications through an eight-inch tube that was already in place.

To enhance contact with the stranded workers, equipment was placed into the six-inch pipeline, according to Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain of the National Disaster Management Authority. Additionally, this helped to raise the morale of all the workers who were stuck. They also spoke to their families informing them that they were safe.

Also Read: Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse: Hot Khichdi Filled In Bottles Sent To Trapped Workers For 1st Time

We are so happy for all the workers and their families! Kudos to the Uttarakhand administration and all the workers who worked so hard to drill the tunnel!

Cover Image Courtesy: @jayantamalla/X (formerly Twitter)

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