On Sunday, November 12, 2023, around 05:30 am, a section of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India, caved in while under construction. The collapse occurred about 200 meters (660 ft) from the tunnel entrance, trapping 41 construction workers inside. Investigators revealed that the tunnel lacked any escape shafts for emergency evacuation and was built in a geological fault.

A day after their rescue from the tunnel, where they had been trapped for 17 days, 41 construction workers were airlifted by an Indian Air Force Chinook to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rishikesh. Although none of the workers suffered external injuries, officials mentioned taking them to the premier hospital as a precautionary measure for faster and more effective testing.

41 Workers from some of the India’s poorest states were trapped in tunnel for 17days.

The rescued construction workers, who were brought out safely from the Silkyara-Dindalgaon tunnel on November 28, 2023 (Tuesday) evening after their entrapment, had initially been taken to a makeshift hospital in Chinyalisaur. A Chinook helicopter

On Wednesday, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited the hospital, conversed with the workers, and provided them with financial aid of ₹1 lakh each.


Gabbar Singh Negi, a key figure in the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue, received special praise from PM Modi for his role during the 17-day entrapment in the collapsed Silkyara tunnel. Negi, one of the rescued workers, stood out for his contribution in maintaining calm among the trapped workers through yoga and meditation.

[CM of Uttarakand, Pushkar Singh Dhami prasing Gabbar Singh Negi]


Operation Zindagi (“life”) was initiated by the state government to rescue the trapped workers. By 16 November, two tunnel boring machines had been deployed during the rescue efforts. The second machine was flown in three parts after the progress of the first was insufficiently speedy. The rescue team had contacted the team that freed the students from the Tham Luang cave disaster in Thailand in 2018.

Successful evacuation of 41 workers from the collapsed Silkyara Tunnel, in Uttarkashi

Drilling through the debris in the tunnel was halted on 17 November after cracking sounds were heard. New access passageways were initiated running parallel and beside the current primary tunnel.

Three pipes were drilled during the operation: one providing oxygen, another providing passage for food, and a 15-centimeter (6-inch)-wide pipe that was used to supply hot meals and allow the insertion of an endoscopic camera.

Problems with the consistency of the rubble and obstructions caused drilling delays on 22 and 23 November. Significant repairs were required for the drilling machine and its mounting platform on 23 November. At this stage, it was believed that the operations had reached 75% of the way through the obstructing debris. Bhaskar Khulbe, a former adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, expressed hope that the rescue operation would be completed by the evening of 24 November and that the trapped workers would be evacuated. He also stated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was very sensitive towards the workers trapped in the tunnel and was receiving detailed information daily regarding their well-being and the ongoing relief and rescue operations. On 25 November, the rescue operation faced another setback as the tunnel boring machine broke and became stuck inside the tunnel, hindering drilling progress. The rescue team opted to employ traditional hand tools like hammers and chisels for breaking through the debris, reaching the workers trapped inside.. It was believed that the drilling had reached a point approximately 9 meters (30 feet) short of breaking through. Meanwhile, Australian tunneling expert Arnold Dix, who was part of the rescue operation, emphasized the need for a cautious approach.

On the 28th of November, members of the rescue team, known as ‘rat-hole’ miners, manually cleared the remaining debris, successfully reaching the trapped workers by pushing a pipe through. The rescue team evacuated the workers one-by-one on stretchers throughout the day, following a process expected to take several hours.

3 thoughts on “Workers Trapped In Uttarakhand Tunnel”
  1. I think u forgot to mention some important names of this rescue operation,1- mumma Qureshi, waqeel Khan,nehru they are the important part of that rescue operation(zindagi) at the last moment these guys enter in the cave and start digging with courage and no fear…

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