Mrunal Manmay Dash

Dhiren Nayak from Baripada in Mayurbhanj district had pinned his hopes on the rescue workers all the time he was stuck inside the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi along with 40 other workers.

Though he never lost hope for 17 straight days, he described his rescue as a collective effort.

Narrating his ordeal, Nayak said, “We survived the initial 10 days on puffed rice and dry fruits. Later, the authorities sent dal, rice and chapati through a 6-inch pipe.”

“We went on our duty on December 11 night. The next day was Diwali Holiday so we wanted to finish the work early and leave the tunnel. But the tunnel collapsed during our return on December 12 morning,” Nayak told OTV.

“We did not get oxygen for 18 hours after it collapsed. We neither had phone communication nor the walky-talkies worked. So, we opened the water line to convey the message to outside that we were stuck inside and alive. We did not face any problem to breath initially because the tunnel was long and it had enough oxygen inside for us to breath in the initial hours,” Nayak added.

“I have been working there for more than three years. But never ever such an accident has occurred. I guess it was an unlucky day for us,” he said.

Apart from Dhiren Nayak, there were four other workers from Odisha who were struck in the tunnel. They are-- Bisweswar Nayak from Baripada, Bhagwan Bhatra from Jharigaon, Raju Nayak from Kuldiha and Tapan Mondal from Chalis Chen village.

The families of the workers who were stuck in the collapsed tunnel for 400 hours since the night of Diwali rejoiced after their rescue on Tuesday as they celebrated with dance, music and firecrackers.

As per reports, the villagers of the rescued Odia workers are planning a huge welcome party when they return to their respective villages.