In an extraordinary display of human endurance and hope, 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in India's Uttarakhand were rescued after more than two weeks. The workers were part of a project building the Chardham all-weather road, a federal initiative connecting various Hindu pilgrimage sites. The rescue operation, which has gripped the nation, was a challenging task requiring the construction of a passageway made of welded pipes to extract the trapped laborers.
The Marathon Rescue
The rescue operation was a trial of patience and resilience. The Silkyara tunnel, part of the ₹1.5bn Char Dham project, collapsed on November 12. The trapped workers were brought out on wheeled stretchers through a 90cm wide pipe, amidst cheers and flower garlands. This marathon 17-day rescue effort faced numerous setbacks, from difficult terrain to the challenge of creating a safe path through the collapsed debris.
National Attention and International Assistance
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, commended the 'courage and patience' of the workers, their families, and the rescue team. The rescue operation drew international attention, with micro-tunnelling expert Chris Cooper lending his expertise. The Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Pushkar Singh Dhami, and several officers from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) made regular visits to the site, underlining the national significance of the event.
Financial Aid for the Rescued
Following the incident, local authorities announced financial aid of ₹1 lakh for those affected. This aid aims to support the workers during their recovery and to address any immediate needs arising from the incident. Rescued workers have been placed under medical observation, ensuring their health and recovery are being closely monitored.