Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
At least 12 workers who were trapped under the debris inside the Tapovan tunnel were rescued by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Sunday, 7 February, evening after four hours of efforts. Three people were found unconscious.
The death toll has risen to 19, while at least 202 people are missing after a glacier burst caused flash floods in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.
Here's what the workers had to say about their frightening experience and rescue operation after the flash flood struck them.
We were working inside the tunnel and suddenly heard a call to leave. We rushed towards the end to escape, the water that was coming in full force entered the mouth of the tunnel, and we couldn’t go out. There was so much water inside that we hung to the crown of the tunnel... We had lost hope that we would survive until the ITBP team rescued us one by one.
Those who have been rescued are being treated at the ITBP hospital in Joshimath, Uttarakhand.
"We didn't know what happened outside, there was complete silence after the water filled the tunnel. We kept hanging to the crown and remained stranded for 5-7 hours,” said Kiran Biskarma, one of the rescued worker.
ITBP personnel also provided relief material and ration to at least nine villages that have been cut off due to the flash flood in Chamoli.
While authorities expect the death toll to rise, most of the missing individuals are believed to be workers working at the Rishi Ganga power project. The breach has triggered massive flooding along Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers.
The rescued workers also expressed heartfelt gratitude to the ITBP for giving them a new lease of life.