When the news of a glacier burst in Uttarakhand broke on Sunday, people across the country had only prayers on their lips. Those stuck in an underground dark tunnel at Tapovan had lost all hopes for survival. But one phone call changed things around for them.
One of those twelve people found his mobile phone network working, and managed to contact the authorities. Lal Bahadur, the rescued Tapovan power project worker, said that they heard people screaming at them to come out of the tunnel but before they could react, a sudden gush of water and heavy silt swamped on them.
"We were 300 metres deep in the tunnel when the water gushed in. We got trapped. The ITBP rescued us," Nepal resident Basant said.
Another unidentified worker who hails from Dhak village in Chamoli and worked at the Tapovan project said as the water gushed in, the only thing they could do was to lunge onto the crown of the tunnel.
"We lost hope...but then we saw some light and felt some air to breathe...suddenly one of us found he had network on his mobile and then he called up our general manager informing him about our situation," the man said from the hospital bed.
These twelve people were rescued by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) from an underground tunnel in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on Monday evening. Officials said they remained stuck there for about seven hours, from 10 am to 5 pm, till the last man was evacuated by rescuers.
They are being treated at an ITBP hospital in Joshimath, about 25 km from the incident spot. This is also the base of the ITBP's Battalion No. 1, tasked with guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China that runs along the state.
According to the ITBP, at least 11 bodies have been recovered while 202 are still missing since the disaster struck in the upper reaches of Chamoli district. (With PTI inputs)