41 Workers, Rescued From Uttarakhand Tunnel, Airlifted In Chinook

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The labourers are expected to be kept under observation for 24 hours.

Uttarkashi:

A day after they were rescued from the tunnel where they had been trapped for 17 days, 41 construction workers have been airlifted in an Indian Air Force Chinook and taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh. While none of the workers have suffered external injuries, officials said they are being taken to the premier hospital as a precautionary measure and so that tests can be done faster and more effectively.

The construction workers, who were brought out safely from the Silkyara-Dindalgaon tunnel on Tuesday evening after being trapped there since November 12, had been taken to a makeshift hospital in Chinyalisaur. The Chinook helicopter was on standby at a helidrome nearby. 

On Wednesday, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the hospital, spoke to the workers and gave them aid of Rs 1 lakh each.

Officials from the chief minister’s office said the workers will be kept under observation at AIIMS for 24 hours. The workers were in the tunnel, without sunlight and natural air, for 17 days and, officials said, they will be examined and tests will be carried out at AIIMS as a precautionary measure.

Despite the distance from Chinyalisaur to Rishikesh being around 150 km, the decision to airlift the workers was taken to avoid wasting time and to ensure that none of them feel ill during the journey. Paramedics also accompanied the labourers on the Chinook.

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“It will be easier for relatives to meet the labourers in Rishikesh. After doctors give the all-clear, it will also be easier to send the workers home from there because the road and railway connectivity is better,” said an official.

The workers were greeted with wild cheers and flower garlands when they were rescued from the tunnel on Tuesday evening and Chief Minister Dhami was also present at the spot to welcome them. They were brought out through 57 metres of steel pipe on wheeled stretchers.

The Silkyara-Dandalgaon tunnel is part of the Centre’s ambitious Char Dham project to enhance connectivity to the Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.

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