National Disaster Relief Force personnel Manmohan Singh Rawat, who was commander of the team that went in to rescue workers in the Uttarkashi tunnel on Wednesday said that throughout the operations they maintained constant contact with those trapped inside.
He narrated his experience and the ordeal leading to the successful evacuation of 41 trapped workers inside the Silkyara tunnel.
“When I entered the tunnel, I asked them, ‘Ap loog kaise hai? (How are you?)” I said to them, ‘Do not panic.’ They were very happy to see the NDRF team reaching out to them,” Rawat told ANI on Wednesday.
Recounting the ordeal of rescue operations lasting for 17 days, he said, “It was very challenging to supply essential food items through a pipe to workers.”
“We kept assuring them that we would be reaching out to you and therefore do not panic and therefore kept their morale high during this time,” he added.
Satpal, another NDRF personnel, said while speaking to ANI that the operation was “challenging” for the entire country.

“We were already informed about the complications of the operation. Four rescuers from a 12-member NDRF team were on the frontlines and had to march ahead of the tunnel. Four personnel were kept on backup to pull out the workers.
He said that officials, including ministers, were in constant touch with the workers during this time. “They had the confidence that they would come out of the tunnel. Therefore, they were not panic-stricken and very happy.”
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.
All 41 workers who were trapped inside Uttarakhand’s Silkyari tunnel since November 12 were evacuated safely on Tuesday evening. The breakthrough was achieved at 7:05 pm.

Vikram, part of a five-member NDRF team, who had rushed from Manali after completing a course in Avalanche,said while speaking to ANI, “We were informed on the phone to report here as soon as possible. We were briefed about the rescue operation upon reaching here.”
We were divided into three teams each of four members, he said, adding that all the workers exited the tunnel in a span of one-and-a-half hour. (ANI)