Uttarakhand glacier burst

Story of the man in the viral Uttarakhand rescue photo

Rescue operations under way at Tapovan Tunnel. Two power projects – NTPC’s Tapovan-Vishnugad hydel project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project – were extensively damaged.   | Photo Credit: PTI

There is light at the end of the tunnel-- Vinod Singh and his 11 colleagues lived this reality on Sunday.

Singh (33), a welder, was the first one to be rescued from one of the two blocked tunnels. A video where he is seen wriggling out of the tunnel, overwhelmed, chanting slogans in ode to the famous Badrinath temple, has since gone viral. The video was shot by the ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police).

Mr. Singh, a resident of Joshimath recalled the seven gruelling hours he spent in the tunnel with his colleagues, till they were rescued by a team of ITBP personnel.

“The tunnel that is four-metre high was covered in a mix of debris and water for up to three metres. We managed to catch hold of the iron railing above and clung to it for our lives, we were exhausted. Sometimes we changed hands or tried to catch hold of the tunnel’s wall to remain alive,” he said on phone from the ITBP’s hospital in Joshimath.

Faint network on phone

Mr. Singh said it was a faint network on his phone that saved them.

“We managed to drag ourselves up to 350 metres to the end of the tunnel, where we saw some light. We decided to stay put there as we could get oxygen through that small hole. I noticed that my BSNL phone had network. I first called my office manager and then my brother. I told my brother to stay calm and send help,” he said.

An ITBP team, deployed 15 km away was rushed to the tunnel and they began the excavation work around 10.30 am. The tunnel was used to dispose waste water from the power project.

“It was a battle for life, the tunnel was full of wet debris and we could not possibly step down. We were cold and our clothes were soiled. There was no option before us but to hang on. The patience finally paid off. I was the first one to be rescued around 6 p.m.,” he said, adding that he had been working at the project for the past one and a half years. His joint family comprises his wife, son, mother and brother’s family.

He said there were no warning signs. “Suddenly there was a strange sound and slush started filling the tunnel….soon there was complete darkness. We got no time to react,” he recalled.

Scores in the second tunnel at Tapovan are still stuck with efforts on to rescue them.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:45:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/glacier-burst-how-a-phone-call-saved-their-lives-recount-survivors/article33782853.ece

In This Package
Uttarakhand glacier disaster: Death certificates may be issued for missing persons
Efforts continue: A new machine brought to Tapovan tunnel to carry out further drilling, at Joshimath on February 13, 2021.
Uttarakhand disaster | Police perform last rites of unidentified bodies in Chamoli
Uttarakhand disaster | 64 from Uttar Pradesh still missing
The Hindu Explains | Why are geologists worried about a slew of hydroelectric projects and environmental stress in Uttarakhand?
Uttarakhand flood disaster | Relief operation continues in Chamoli
Scientists uncertain about impact of budding pool in Uttarakhand flood zone
In Pictures | The aftermath of Uttarakhand glacier disaster
The agonising cost of ham-handed development
A resilient future for Uttarakhand
Data | Over 50,000 hectares of forest land in Uttarakhand diverted for various projects in last 30 years
Troubled mountains: On Uttarakhand glacier disaster
Uttarakhand floods: Amit Shah speaks to CM, assures help
Tracing the Ganga's intricate waterweb
Dams and damages
Glacier burst: IMD says no adverse weather over affected areas on Feb 7, 8
Armed forces move in to provide assistance in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand glacier burst brings back memory of 2013 flash floods
Uttarakhand flood: 2019 study warned Himalayan glaciers melting at alarming speed
Uttarakhand glacier burst | Experts point to climate change impact
Uttarakhand glacier burst | Dhauliganga’s water level at Joshimath breaches records, say Central Water Commission
Uttarakhand glacier burst | Tapovan hydel project entirely washed away, says ITBP Officer
7 killed after ‘glacial burst’ in Uttarakhand
Uma Bharati recalls her warning on Uttarakhand hydel projects
Uttarakhand glacier burst: Death toll up to 26, rescue operation on in Chamoli
Explained: How glaciers, glacial lakes form and why they break
Uttarakhand glacier disaster | Avalanche damages a part of under-construction hydro plant in Tapovan: NTPC
Uttarakhand glacier disaster | ISRO, DRDO trying to ascertain exact cause, says CM
You are reading
Story of the man in the viral Uttarakhand rescue photo
13 of 486 Uttarakhand glacial lakes vulnerable: GSI
Engineer from Kashmir among those missing in Uttarakhand
Landslip, not glacial lake burst, probable trigger for Uttarakhand flood
Projects above an elevation of 2,200 metres recipe for disaster, say experts
Uttarakhand glacier disaster: A phone call that saved a dozen lives
Efforts on to find 35 labourers trapped in Uttarakhand tunnel
197 still missing as Uttarakhand avalanche toll touches 32
Floodlights are lit around the Tapovan tunnel area where rescuers are searching for trapped workers on February 9, 2021.
Uttarakhand flood | 71 from U.P. remain untraced
Uttarakhand flood | Families await reunion with loved ones trapped in tunnel
Next Story