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“An immense achievement”: Australian envoy praises rescue of 41 tunnel workers in Uttarakhand

First Published: 29th November, 2023 7:29 IST

Commending the rescue operation, which progressed over two weeks, navigating myriad challenges, the Australian diplomat called it an "immense achievement."

Australian High Commissioner to India, Philip Green, hailed the rescue of 41 workers, who were trapped inside a collapsed portion of an under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand for 16 days, on Tuesday.

Commending the rescue operation, which progressed over two weeks, navigating myriad challenges, the Australian diplomat called it an “immense achievement.”

He also underlined the efforts, a tunnelling expert from Australia, who oversaw the rescue operation over 16 days, providing technical support that eventually led to the safe extraction of all the trapped workers.
“This is an immense achievement. Well done to the authorities for successfully evacuating all 41 workers trapped in the tunnel in #Uttarkhand,” the Australian High Commissioner posted from his official handle on X.
“Special commendation to Australia’s Professor Arnold Dix who provided important technical support on the ground,” he added in his post.

Dix had earlier ruled out risks of a collapse in the area where the incident took place.
“It may have been an unusual situation occurring here where the class of rock changes. It has to be investigated. The area that collapsed hadn’t collapsed before; it wasn’t even given any clue that it was going to collapse before. So, it is a part of the challenge for us–what is it about the ground here, this mountain that caught us on the back foot,” Dix told ANI earlier.

He added that he never promised that the rescue operations would go smoothly and end quickly.
“In the beginning, I never promised it would be quick, I never promised it would be easy, I never said it would be tomorrow, I never said it would be tonight. Always I said they will be home for Christmas and will be safe,” the tunnelling expert added.
A portion of the tunnel caved in on November 12, with the debris falling in the 60-metre stretch on the Silkyara side of the tunnel, trapping 41 labourers inside. The workers were trapped in a 2 km-built portion of the tunnel.

Meanwhile, Norway’s Ambassador to India, May-Elin Stener, also commended the rescuers behind the daring operation.
Taking to her official handle on social media platform X, Ambassador Stener posted, “Congratulations to the rescue team, and all friends and family members of those who were trapped. A relieving end to a difficult operation. We wish for good health of all those involved.”

Heaping praise on the rescuers, who stuck to their task for 16 days at the Silkyara tunnel, braving cold days and icy nights, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said they gave a new lease of life to the trapped workers and their efforts have set an “example of humanity and teamwork”.
“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 are inspiring everyone. I wish you all well and good health,” PM Modi posted from his X handle.
The much-desired breakthrough was achieved at 7.05 pm on Tuesday.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami and Union Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Civil Aviation, Gen (retd.) VK Singh were present at the tunnel site when the workers were brought out, Harpal Singh, project head, Zoji-la Tunnel, informed. (ANI)

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