Uttarkashi tunnel: 41 workers and 41 stories of true grit and human endurance
One of the labouers said there was around two-km space for the trapped miners to move around and that helped to keep them stress-free
After the 17-day ordeal inside the Silkyara tunnel, the miraculous rescue of 41 miners has left the world with 41 stories of true grit and human endurance.
“We were on job as usual on November 12 when around 4.30am there was a sudden landslide and many labourers rushed outside. Before we could realise the enormity of the situation, a 60-feet portion of the tunnel caved in and we 41 got trapped. Initially, it was a harrowing experience, but the authorities did whatever they could,” Sushil Kumar Vishwakarma from Bihar’s Rohtas told HT on phone.
He said the 2,340-metre portion of the tunnel had been completed, but after the landslide, debris was lying around 200-metre area in an area of 60 metres. “There was around two-km space for the trapped miners to move around and that helped to keep all of us stress-free. The administration outside also made a lot of arrangements to keep us in a good frame of mind and also supplied ludo, cards and chess inside the tunnel so that we could stay engaged. We were also advised to do yoga and we did it every morning. We were also provided with phones so that we could talk to family members,” he recalled.
He said they all used to have food together, and we also kept encouraging one another. “There was no work inside and so we talked to one another. Charging the phone was a problem in the beginning and we just switched it on to know the time. Later, we got phones and chargers from the company. We also played games on it,” he added.
Mohammad Saba Ahmad alias Saif, foreman of Navyuga construction company, said that the first two days there was a lot of anxiety, but we got strength after communication was established. “After that cooked food also reached us and we could talk to family members to calm things down. We wanted to be safe for the family and the God helped. We were never panicky, as we stayed together. There was concern in the beginning but together we braved the situation with the hope that there was someone fighting the battle for us,” he added.
Another rescued miner Sonu Shah of Saran said that coming out of the tunnel on November 28 was like a new lease of life for all. “On November 12, there was a sudden loud sound and debris started falling from the mountain. Once we found ourselves trapped, we knew the worst had happened. We had nothing to eat, not even water. We were nervous, we never lost hope, as we soon got the message that massive efforts were underway to pull us out. That hope enthused us,” he said.
He said that there was a natural source of water and the miners had designated a place for toilet. “We used to talk and play to while away time, as there was nothing else to do,” he added.
Deepak Patel, of Muzaffarpur who was also rescued, said that the death was staring at their face, but they were not ready to accept it. “The real hope came after we got to know about massive rescue operations underway outside. I got reminded of the film ‘Kala-Paththar, which shows how some people were rescued alive from coal mine,” he added.