Uttarkashi: Rescue workers pulled out all 41 workers trapped in Uttarakand’s Silkyara tunnel in a multi-agency rescue operation that hovered between hope and despair over almost 17 days.
Union minister V K Singh and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami welcomed the workers as National Disaster Response Force men brought them out through a steel chute that lined a 60-metre escape 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.
A portion of the tunnel collapsed on November 12, blocking the exit for 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.