41 rescued workers emerge dazed and smiling after 17 days trapped in collapsed road tunnel in India

by Chloe Baker
India tunnel rescue

After being trapped for 17 days in a collapsed road tunnel in India, forty-one construction workers were rescued, emerging in a state of bewilderment but with smiles on their faces late Tuesday. This triumphant conclusion to their harrowing experience captured the nation’s attention, involving a complex rescue mission that faced numerous challenges.

The successful rescue sparked jubilation among locals, family members, and officials. Celebrations included setting off firecrackers and chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai,” a patriotic slogan in Hindi, as the workers, having undergone preliminary medical checks, made their way out of the tunnel. They were warmly received, with officials adorning them with garlands amidst the cheering crowd.

Nitin Gadkari, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways, expressed his immense relief and joy on social media platform X upon the safe recovery of all workers from the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi. He highlighted the rescue operation as a testament to the effective coordination among various agencies, calling it one of the most significant in recent history.

The incident occurred early on November 12 when a landslide triggered the collapse of a section of the 4.5-kilometer tunnel, about 200 meters from the entrance, fortunately causing no serious injuries or fatalities. The timing was particularly poignant as many workers were likely anticipating Diwali celebrations.

Despite being trapped, the workers had access to light inside the tunnel and were provided with essentials like food, water, and oxygen through pipes. Over a dozen medical professionals, including psychiatrists, were present on-site to monitor their health.

The rescue operation, initially expected to be brief, faced delays and complications, extending the workers’ entrapment to over two weeks. The final phase involved a dozen rescuers manually digging through rubble overnight using handheld drills, as described by state spokesperson Kirti Panwar.

The rescue team had to switch to manual digging when their machine broke down, having bored through most of the required distance to reach the trapped workers. The workers were eventually brought out individually on a stretcher through a narrow tunnel constructed from welded pipes.

A rescuer named Devender shared with the New Delhi Television channel the overwhelming joy and relief experienced by the workers upon being found.

Most of the rescued were migrant laborers from across India, with many of their families camping at the site, anxiously awaiting their rescue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally communicated with some of the rescued workers, lauding their resilience and wishing them well. He also commended the efforts of everyone involved in the rescue mission.

The tunnel is part of the Chardham project, a key government initiative to connect Hindu pilgrimage sites. However, there are concerns about its environmental impact, especially in the fragile Himalayan region. Despite these concerns, the construction of roads and buildings continues, attracting increasing numbers of pilgrims and tourists to Uttarakhand’s numerous Hindu temples.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about India tunnel rescue

Where did the tunnel collapse occur in India?

The tunnel collapse occurred in the Silkyara Tunnel in Uttarkashi, a town in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

How many workers were rescued from the collapsed tunnel?

A total of 41 construction workers were rescued from the collapsed tunnel.

How long were the workers trapped in the collapsed tunnel?

The workers were trapped for 17 days in the collapsed tunnel.

What caused the tunnel to collapse?

The tunnel collapse was triggered by a landslide.

What was the distance of the collapsed section from the tunnel entrance?

The collapsed section of the tunnel was about 200 meters (220 yards) from the entrance.

What festival were many of the workers likely looking forward to celebrating?

Many of the workers were likely looking forward to celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

What kind of assistance did the trapped workers receive?

The trapped workers received food, water, oxygen, and medical attention including psychiatric support, through pipes into the collapsed tunnel.

Who led the rescue operation?

The rescue operation was a coordinated effort by multiple agencies, under the guidance of Indian government officials.

What challenges did the rescuers face?

Rescuers faced several setbacks, including equipment breakdowns, which prolonged the rescue operation beyond the initially expected few days.

What was the reaction of the workers’ families and local communities?

The workers’ families and local communities were overjoyed and relieved, with celebrations including firecrackers and patriotic chants.

How did the Indian Prime Minister respond to the rescue?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to some of the rescued workers, praising their courage and the efforts of everyone involved in the rescue operation.

More about India tunnel rescue

  • India tunnel collapse rescue
  • Silkyara Tunnel incident
  • Uttarkashi tunnel tragedy
  • Diwali celebration and tunnel rescue
  • Challenges in tunnel rescue operations
  • Reaction to Uttarkashi tunnel rescue
  • Indian Prime Minister on tunnel rescue

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Rajesh Kumar November 29, 2023 - 11:08 am

wow, this is truly a miracle! Can’t believe they survived 17 days, that’s amazing. Kudos to the rescue team!

Manoj Gupta November 29, 2023 - 3:45 pm

incredible effort by the rescuers, but we need to ensure better safety measures in these projects, can’t risk lives like this.

Simran Kaur November 29, 2023 - 3:55 pm

heard about this on the news, so happy for the families, Diwali miracle indeed!

Vikram Patel November 29, 2023 - 5:20 pm

This shows the strength and resilience of our people, Proud moment for India!

Anita Singh November 30, 2023 - 12:39 am

My heart goes out to all those workers and their families. such a scary situation but glad it ended well.


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