41 Workers Rescued from the Tunnel : A Triumph of Resilience

41 Workers Rescued from Silkyara tunnel after a prolonged and tedious efforts. In a remarkable display of determination and expertise, the rescue mission in Uttarakhand’s Silkyara tunnel reached its zenith as all 41 trapped workers were successfully liberated. Chief Minister Dhami, acknowledging the challenges faced, expressed a commitment to scrutinize all state tunnels to prevent future incidents.

The harrowing ordeal unfolded when rat-hole mining specialists undertook manual drilling through the debris, heralding a glimmer of hope for the trapped workers. The live updates painted a vivid picture of the rescue efforts, capturing the collective breath-holding moments as the operation unfolded and the 41 workers rescued.

As the clock ticked, the completion of drilling, announced by Bansi Dhar Tiwari of the state government’s information department, marked a significant milestone. Chief Minister Dhami took to social media, sharing the news of the escape pipe being successfully laid into the drilled passage, igniting optimism about the imminent release of all workers.

However, the National Disaster Management Authority’s official later clarified that while a breakthrough was not yet achieved, the rescuers were in close proximity. The final triumph came at around 7:00 pm when rescuers entered the collapsed tunnel, ending a 16-day saga that had captured the attention and concern of the nation.

A crucial turning point in the rescue operation was the deployment of 12 rat-hole mining experts tasked with horizontally drilling through the last 10- to 12-meter stretch of debris. This alternative approach became necessary after a large auger machine faced an impasse on Friday. Approximately 40% of the required 86-meter vertical drilling had been completed, showcasing the complexity of the mission.

The rescued workers, now on their way to the Community Health Centre in Chinyalisaur for primary medical treatment, represent stories of survival and resilience. The Norwegian Ambassador to India, May-Elin Stener, commended the tireless efforts of the rescue team, offering heartfelt congratulations to the families of the trapped workers on the successful culmination of the operation.

Delving into the background of the Silkyara Tunnel, a project by NHIDCL on Yamunotri National Highway, it becomes evident that this 4531-meter-long tunnel aims to significantly reduce road distance by 26 km and travel time by 45 minutes. The tunnel, designed as a single tube with two lanes separated by a vertical partition wall, faces the challenges of construction in weak rock mass comprising meta-siltstone and phyllites. The collapse, occurring between chainage 206 m at Silkyara End and chainage 260 towards Barkot End, added complexity to the already intricate construction.

A detailed timeline of the events leading to the successful rescue provides insight into the challenges faced and the unwavering commitment of the rescue teams. From the initial landslide on November 12 that trapped 41 labourers in the Silkyara-Dandalgaon tunnel, the timeline unfolds with each passing day’s efforts and setbacks.

On November 13, Chief Minister Dhami visited the site, establishing communication with trapped workers through an oxygen supply pipe. Efforts on November 14 involved bringing in steel pipes for horizontal digging using an auger machine. Despite minor injuries to two workers, essential supplies were ensured. Dissatisfied with the initial drilling machine’s performance on November 15, NHIDCL requested an advanced auger machine from Delhi, airlifting it to expedite the rescue.

The night of November 16 witnessed the assembly and installation of the new drilling machine, commencing operations past midnight. Progressing around 24 meters through the rubble stretch on November 17, operations halted when the fifth pipe encountered an obstacle. A high-performance auger machine from Indore was flown in, but operations ceased due to a significant cracking sound emerging from the tunnel.

November 18 saw officials and experts devising evacuation plans, exploring alternative methods like vertical drilling. Drilling activities remained suspended on November 19, with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari emphasizing the potential success of horizontal drilling. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s involvement on November 20 highlighted the national importance of the rescue, urging morale maintenance among rescuers.

On November 21, the first video of trapped laborers was released, showcasing supplies and communication through the pipeline. Simultaneously, drilling began at the Balkot-end for an alternative tunnel on the Char Dham route. Progressing to about 45 meters on November 22, iron rods obstructed the auger machine’s evening progress.

The removal of iron rod obstructions on November 23 allowed the resumption of operations, reaching the 48-meter mark before pausing due to cracks in the drilling machine’s resting platform. Drilling ceased on November 24 as the auger machine encountered a hurdle, potentially a metal object, after resuming operations.

International tunnelling expert Arnold Dix reported the auger machine malfunction on November 25, prompting consideration of alternative methods like vertical or manual drilling. On November 26, rescuers began drilling into the hill above the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel, aiming to penetrate 86 meters. By evening, approximately 19.5 meters had been drilled. Unfortunately, two BRO officials sustained injuries in a collision near the Silkyara tunnel site.

Watch The Golden Moment

November 27 marked the arrival of 12 rat-hole mining specialists, initiating manual drilling to clear the final 10- to 12-meter stretch of debris. The breakthrough came on November 28, with rescuers inserting a pipe into the tunnel, reaching the breakthrough point at 57 meters. The evacuation of the first worker at 7.56 pm signaled the end of a challenging journey, with all other trapped workers emerging in good health.

Read More : Silkyara tunnel Rescue operation

In conclusion, the 41 workers rescued was a great news. The Silkyara tunnel rescue stands as a testament to human resilience and collaborative efforts. As the nation collectively exhales, the meticulous timeline reveals the challenges, setbacks, and unwavering determination that ultimately led to a successful outcome. The commitment of the rescue teams, coupled with international appreciation, reinforces the importance of preparedness and adaptability in the face of adversity.

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