End of ordeal: All 41 workers rescued from collapsed tunnel

Workers rescued from the tunnel in Uttarakhand on Tuesday evening.
Workers rescued from the tunnel in Uttarakhand on Tuesday evening.

None in critical condition, all given medical aid
UTTARKASHI, Nov 28: Rescue workers pulled out all 41 workers trapped in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel in a multi-agency rescue operation that hovered between hope and despair for almost 17 days.
Union Minister V K Singh and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami welcomed the workers as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) men brought them out through a steel chute that lined a 60-metre passage.
An ambulance with the first of the 41 workers left the mouth of the tunnel around 8 pm, about an hour after a group of rat-hole mining experts dug through the last stretch of rubble.
There was hugging and cheers as the ordeal ended. Outside the tunnel some people chanted “Har Har Mahadev” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”
Ambulances which had lined up at the tunnel ferried the workers to a Community Health Centre where a special 41-bed ward had been set up.
Before this, the workers were given a quick medical checkup as they emerged out of the steel pipe.
CM Dhami said no worker was in a critical situation. But the labourers will be kept under medical observation for some time before being sent home, he said.
He said the youngest of the worker was rescued first.
A portion of the tunnel on the Char Dham route collapsed on November 12, blocking the exit of the workers who were inside.
Food, medicines and other essentials were sent to them through a six-inch pipe pushed through the rubble of the collapsed portion.
Relief was felt far and wide.
Over the phone, Jharkhand’s Sunil, who was camping in Silkyara, spoke to PTI on the rescue of his brother Anil.
“Finally, God heard us. My brother could be rescued. I am with him in an ambulance on the way to hospital,” he said in a choked voice.
As the rescue appeared imminent earlier in the day, families stationed in Silkyara were allowed inside the tunnel with their belongings – so that they could travel with their loved ones to the medical centre.
MeanwhilePresident Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight night led the country in hailing the successful operation to rescue 41 workers trapped in Uttarakand’s Silkyara tunnel for almost 17 days, saying it is an emotional moment for everyone.
Murmu said the nation salutes the resilience of the workers and remains grateful to them for building critical infrastructure, even at great personal risk.
“I congratulate the teams and all experts who have acted with incredible grit and determination to perform one of the most difficult rescue missions in history,” she said in a post on X.
Soon after the workers were brought out of the tunnel, Modi saluted the spirit of those involved in the operation and said their courage and resolve have given a new life to them.
“Everyone involved in the mission has created an amazing example of humanity and teamwork,” he said in a post on X.
Wishing the rescued workers good health and well-being, he said their courage and patience inspire everyone.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction that these friends of ours will meet their dear ones after a long wait,” Modi said, asserting that the patience and courage of their family members cannot be praised enough.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said this was great news for the nation and said it salutes the grit of the workers in facing such a challenging situation for so long.
He also expressed his gratitude to all the people and the agencies that made tireless efforts to save the lives.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said he is “relieved and happy” as all the trapped workers have been rescued.
“This was a well-coordinated effort by multiple agencies, marking one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years. Various departments and agencies complemented each other despite facing numerous challenges,” he said.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge Kharge said it is a matter of great relief and joy for everyone that the workers were brought out of the tunnel safely.
He urged the government to provide prompt health benefits and an appropriate compensation to the workers and demanded that a safety audit be conducted of all under-construction schemes so that a similar situation does not arise again.
Party general secretary Jairam Ramesh lauded the resilience and fortitude of the labourers.
Thanking Modi for providing constant support during the rescue efforts, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said no worker is critical but all of them will be kept under medical observation before being sent home.
He said evacuation began with the youngest of workers. They were all fit and crawled out of the passage on their own, he said.
Dhami also said Rs 1 lakh will be given to each rescued worker.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath thanked “everyone who made their invaluable contribution” in saving the lives of the workers. (PTI)