Evacuated workers who were rescued from inside the Uttarkashi tunnel after 17 days of being trapped are now looking forward to meeting their anxious families.
One of the rescued labourers, Vishwajeet Kumar Verma from Jharkhand who operates a compressor machine said that he had full faith that he would be rescued and would see the outside world again.
"I am very happy and safe. All the other trapped labourers are also safe. Now, we are in the hospital. The debris had fallen at the beginning of the tunnel and I was on the other side. The road of about two and a half kilometers was empty. We used to roam around inside the tunnel to spend our time. There was a little fear in the beginning, but as we got food, water and talked to our families, our morale kept going higher and higher. We had full faith that very soon we would see the outside world," Vishwajeet said.
A colleague of Vishwajeet, Subodh Kumar Verma said that the workers inside the tunnel were 'determined' to be evacuated.
"I am a resident of Jharkhand and run a concrete pump inside the tunnel. An atmosphere of fear was created among the labourers after a part of the tunnel suddenly collapsed. 18-24 hours passed in the shadow of fear and after that, when we started getting food and drink, we got some relief. The administration had also arranged for oxygen. We had full faith that the administration would take us out," he said.
Subodh Verma further said that he was eagerly waiting to meet his family.
"I am in touch with my family on the phone continuously," Subodh said.
On November 12, a section of the tunnel between 205 and 260 metres from the Silkyara side collapsed. Workers who were beyond the 260-metre mark were trapped, with their exit blocked.
Of the 41 men, 15 are from Jharkhand, two are from Uttarakhand, five are from Bihar, three are from West Bengal, eight are from Uttar Pradesh, five are from Odisha, two are from Assam, and one is from Himachal Pradesh.
The rescued workers were draped in orange marigold flower garlands and were greeted by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and Union Minister VK Singh.
The first workers were brought out following a series of agonizing setbacks, during which rescue efforts were halted when the heavy drill meant to break through the debris broke down, forcing workers to adopt riskier methods.
Following the safe evacuation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the courage and patience of the trapped workers and their families and the bravery and determination of the rescue personnel.
PM Modi in his post on X said "The success of the rescue operation of our labourer brothers in Uttarkashi is making everyone emotional. I want to say to the friends who were trapped in the tunnel that your courage and patience is inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health."
"It is a matter of great satisfaction that after a long wait, these friends of ours will now meet their loved ones. The patience and courage that all these families have shown in this challenging time cannot be appreciated enough", PM Modi added.
PM Modi further said that everyone involved in this mission has set an example of humanity and teamwork. (ANI)