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Home > News > India News > Article > Silkyara Tunnel Celebrations erupt as 41 trapped workers were safely extracted after 17 day rescue

Silkyara Tunnel: Celebrations erupt as 41 trapped workers were safely extracted after 17-day rescue

Updated on: 29 November,2023 05:10 AM IST  |  Uttarkashi
Agencies |

As rescue experts drilled from one side, trapped workers showed immense courage to keep faith; in the end, humanity shone through from both sides of the tunnel at the end of 17 days

Silkyara Tunnel: Celebrations erupt as 41 trapped workers were safely extracted after 17-day rescue

Beaming rescued miners coming out of the collapsed Silkyara Tunnel, on Tuesday night. Pic/PTI

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Silkyara Tunnel: Celebrations erupt as 41 trapped workers were safely extracted after 17-day rescue
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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 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.


Rescue officials pose for group photos after the successful evacuation of 41 workers. Pics/PTI
Rescue officials pose for group photos after the successful evacuation of 41 workers. Pics/PTI


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”.


Banned rat-hole miners’ talent, experience come in handy

Rat-hole mining may be illegal but the talent and experience of rat-hole miners were used in the rescue operation to save the 41 workers trapped in the Silkyara tunnel, a National Disaster Management Authority member said on Tuesday. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) member Lt Gen (retd) Syed Ata Hasnain said that rat-hole miners did a phenomenal job by digging 10 metres in less than 24 hours.

Relatives and family members of workers Sukhram Bediya, Naresh Bediya, Rajendra Bediya and Anil Bediya celebrate after their evacuation. Pic/PTI
Relatives and family members of workers Sukhram Bediya, Naresh Bediya, Rajendra Bediya and Anil Bediya celebrate after their evacuation. Pic/PTI

“Rat-hole mining may be illegal, but rat miners’ talent and experience which is being used, it is their capability which is being used,” he said in a media briefing here. Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal. The horizontal tunnels are often termed “rat holes”, as each just about fits one person.

Ticking Timeline

Graphic/Uday Mohite
Graphic/Uday Mohite

Nov 12
The labourers get trapped as portions of the Silkyara-Dandalgaon under-construction tunnel on the Brahmkhal-Yamunotri highway collapse 

Nov 13
Contact is established with the trapped workers through a pipe meant to supply oxygen to them and they are reported to be safe.  

Nov 14
Steel pipes of 800- and 900-mm diameter are brought to tunnel site to be inserted through the rubble with the help of an auger machine for horizontal digging.

Nov 15
Dissatisfied with the first drilling machine, the NHIDCL asks for a state-of-the-art auger machine, which is airlifted from Delhi to speed up the operation.

Nov 16
The drilling machine is assembled and installed. It starts working past midnight.

Nov 17
The machine drills about 24 m through the 57-m rubble stretch and four MS pipes are inserted. Process comes to a halt when the fifth pipe hits an obstacle. 

Nov 18
Drilling does not resume on Saturday as experts feel vibrations created by American auger inside the tunnel might cause more debris to collapse.

Nov 19
Drilling remains suspended while Union minister Nitin Gadkari who reviews the rescue operation. 

Nov 21
Rescuers release the first video of the labourers trapped. NHIDCL resumes overnight the horizontal boring operation.

Nov 22
Horizontal drilling of 800 mm steel pipes reaches about 45 m with only 12 m remaining of the around 57-metre debris stretch.

Nov 23
The iron obstruction that had caused a delay of six hours in the drilling is removed.

Nov 24
The 25-tonne machine is restarted and drilling is resumed. However, in a fresh hurdle, the drill hits a metal girder.

Nov 25
The blades of the auger machine drilling through the rubble is stuck in the debris.

Nov 26
Vertical drilling of 19.2m is done to create an alternative escape route. As the drilling progressed, 700-mm wide pipes are inserted.

Nov 27
Rat-hole mining experts are called in to help with rescuers requiring to dig through horizontally around 10 metres of rubble. 

Nov 28
Rescue workers break through the last stretch of the rubble at about 7 pm.

Nov 12
The day, when a landslide caused under-construction tunnel to collapse on Diwali

17
No of days the men remained trapped inside the tunnel, as rescuers worked against time

41
No of workers who were trapped in the collapse, all of whom have been rescued

57m
The length that rescuers had to drill through without any damage to reach the workers

41
Miners were pulled to safety amidst hugging and cheers

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