Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday lauded the heroic efforts of international tunneling expert Professor Arnold Dix in rescuing 41 trapped workers from a collapsed mountain tunnel in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi as well as improving bilateral relations with India. Dix serves as the president of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association.
All 41 workers trapped in Uttarakhand's Silkyara tunnel were rescued on November 28, ending an ordeal that stretched almost 17 days. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the rescue operation in Uttarakhand to save 41 workers is an amazing example of humanity and teamwork.
"I rise to acknowledge a truly great Australian, Professor Arnold Dix, and for what he has done in once again improving the relations between Australia and our great friends in India. Today, because of him and his hard work alongside the Indian authorities, 41 people are alive, safe and free. This is an extraordinary story. For over two weeks, the world has been gripped by these 41 construction workers trapped in a collapsed mountain tunnel in northern India," said Albanese in the Australian Parliament on Friday.
It's about helping your friends: Australian PM
The Australian leader noted the highly meticulous nature of the rescue operation, where a single wrong move could have resulted in catastrophic consequences for the trapped workers. Dix and his team embarked in a "painstaking process" to save lives despite the risks involved and his wife's message urging him not to proceed, he said.
Albanese also extended gratitude to PM Modi for the collaboration and expressed satisfaction that an Australian was able to assist India in this critical time. "These 41 lives have been saved, families have been reunited, and our friends in India are quite rightly rejoicing," he said.
"Professor Dix summed it up best when he said, it's about helping your friends. So two nations are now in his debt Australia and India. And so to this great Australian, to his big heart, and to his expertise in a very narrow area," Albanese further said in appreciation of Dix's contribution in saving the lives of the trapped workers.
Dix calls rescued workers his 'adopted Indian sons'
In response to Albanese's remarks, Dix thanked the Australian PM and affectionally referred to the 41 evacuated workers as his "adopted Indian sons". "Thank you Anthony Albanese, my Prime Minister, for your kind words on my small role in the miracle rescue of my 41 adopted Indian sons in India," posted Dix on social media platform X .
An event was also organised by the Australian High Commission in India to honour the commendable work of Dix, who highlighted the impeccable coordination between various stakeholders, including the federal government, state government, rescue agencies, military, and volunteers.
Who is Arnold Dix?
Dix is a Professor of engineering, a scientist and a lawyer, who has served as Vice-President of the ITA since 2019. He has been tutor of ITA COSUF and participated in two ITA working groups focusing on safety and maintenance in underground works. He provides expertise and special advice in multiple fields: legal, political, ethical and technical risks related to environment underground and complex structures.
According to the Australian tunnelling society, Dix is the first Australian to be elected to the position in the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association's 50-year history. He is also an advisor for construction, including design concept review, commissioning, procedures and operational readiness with special expertise on the underground, construction safety, operational safety, operations, environment, refurbishment and security.
He has played a key role in mitigating the risks of disasters and responding to actual disasters. He investigated the 9/11 disaster in New York (Underground aspects), London Bombings, Madrid Bombings, along with fire-related disasters such as the Daegu Metro Fires, and Hong Kong Metro fires.
(with inputs from ANI)