Workers exit collapsed Silkyara tunnel after 17 days; Modi lauds 'amazing example of teamwork'
41 workers trapped inside a collapsed portion of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel were rescued in quick succession on Tuesday after approximately 400 hours in the dark.
They were brought out on stretchers by NDRF and SDRF personnel and underwent an initial health checkup at the temporary medical camp built in the tunnel. The rescued workers were then whisked away from the Silkyara tunnel site in ambulances.
“The success of the rescue operation of our labour brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to say to the friends who were trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience are inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He also lauded the “patience and courage" shown by their families over the past two weeks and the multi-agency rescue effort.
“I also salute the spirit of all the people associated with this rescue operation. Their bravery and determination have given new life to our labour brothers. Everyone involved in this mission has set an amazing example of humanity and teamwork," Modi wrote.
Chants of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Modi hai to Mumkin hai' rang out as the multi-agency rescue operation concluded on Monday evening. Locals were also seen distributing sweets outside the Silkyara tunnel as the rescue efforts continued. They sang in praise of a local deity 'Baba Baukhnag' and offered prayers at a makeshift temple set up in the vicinity.
“There has been a great success in the ongoing rescue operation in the Silkyara Tunnel, the work of pipe pushing has been done across the debris. Now preparations have been started to evacuate the workers safely," Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami tweeted as the workers began to emerge.
Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh interacted with the victims inside the Silkyara tunnel after their rescue.
The workers will now be kept under medical observation for 48-72 hours. A 41 bed hospital has also been set up at the Community Health Center in Chinyalisaur for their medical treatment. A Chinook helicopter remained on standby at the Chinyalisaur airstrip in case it became necessary to airlift the workers.
“The rescued workers will be brought here only if medical treatment requirements cannot be met in Uttarkashi District hospital. At AIIMS Rishikesh, there are 20 beds in Trauma Centre and a few ICU beds. If the workers are brought here, they can be given good medical care. A team of doctors has been constituted to be sent to Uttarkashi, if ordered by the state government," Assistant Professor Dr Narinder Kumar had told ANI earlier on Tuesday.
“I feel relieved and happy to learn that all the workers trapped in a tunnel in Uttarakhand have been rescued. Their travails over 17 days, as the rescue effort met with obstacles, have been a testament to human endurance," tweeted President Droupadi Murmu.
She dubbed it “one of the most difficult rescue missions in history" and hailed the resilience of the trapped workers.
Others including Union Minister Nitin Gadkari have also hailed the rescuers.
“I am completely relieved and happy as 41 trapped laborers in the Silkyara Tunnel Collapse have been successfully rescued. This was a well-coordinated effort by multiple agencies, marking one of the most significant rescue operations in recent years," wrote Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in a lengthy social media post.
“Bharat breathes a sigh of relief as the Silkyara Tunnel rescue operation concludes successfully with the rescue of 41 workers. For the last 17 days, the entire nation was united in praying for their safe return, who displayed remarkable resilience and courage," added Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.