Silkyara Tunnel Rescue: All 41 Workers Safely Evacuated 17 Days After Collapse
Rescue personnel had to drill through the 60-metre stretch of rubble of the collapsed tunnel.
All 41 workers trapped inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi were evacuated by rescue personnel on Tuesday evening, 17 days after it collapsed.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said none of the rescued workers are critical and that they will be kept under medical observation before being sent home. Ambulances ferried the workers to a nearby medical camp.
Earlier, rescue teams led by the National Disaster Response Force, despite multiple setbacks and delays, drilled through the 60-metre stretch of the rubble and pushed a steel chute into the passage. The workers were pulled up on a specially modified stretcher.
Besides Dhami, Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways VK Singh oversaw the rescue efforts and draped the workers in flower garlands after the evacuation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded the rescue efforts and said those involved in this mission have "set an amazing example of humanity and teamwork".
He also said the trapped tunnel workers have shown "courage and patience" and wished them good health. "Success of tunnel rescue operation in Uttarkashi is an emotional moment for everyone."
Officials decided to switch to manual boring to break through the last 10 metres of rubble after the heavy-duty auger drilling machine got stuck on Friday.
Twelve rat-hole mining experts were called in to finish the last stretch of drilling using hand-held tools in a confined space. Rat-hole mining is a controversial and hazardous procedure in which miners in small groups go down narrow burrows to excavate small quantities of coal.
Ambulances have lined up at the mouth of the tunnel to rush the rescued workers as they are brought out of the steel chute one by one to a community health centre.
The Air Force has also stationed a Chinook helicopter at the airstrip in Uttarakhand's Chinyalisaur, where an emergency medical centre has been set up to treat the workers.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami reached the mishap site to take stock of the progress in the rescue efforts. Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, VK Singh, is also present.
Located 30 km from Uttarkashi and 139 km from the state capital Dehradun, the Silkyara tunnel is an integral part of the government's Char Dham all-weather road project.