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Workers exit collapsed Silkyara tunnel after 17 days, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami announces review of upcoming routes

41 workers were rescued from a collapsed section of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel on Tuesday evening after some 400 hours in the dark. The rescued individuals are currently being monitored at the Community Health Center in Chinyalisaur. 

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami announced on Tuesday night that each of the rescued individuals would be given 1 lakh. The CM has also announced a review of tunnels that are currently under construction and assured that the Baukhnag temple would be rebuilt.

An ambulance with the first of the 41 workers left the mouth of the tunnel around 8 pm, about an hour after rat-hole mining experts dug through the last stretch of rubble. There was hugging and cheers as the ordeal ended. Some local villagers burst crackers. Outside the tunnel, some chanted “Har Har Mahadev”, “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, and slogans in praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Dhami.

“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.

CM Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh had interacted with the victims inside the Silkyara tunnel after their rescue. The two lawmakers went straight to the Baba Baukhnag temple after the last ambulance had left.

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.

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.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated: 29 Nov 2023, 12:02 AM IST

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