Uttarakhand glacier disaster: A phone call that saved a dozen lives

Vinod Singh recalls 7 gruelling hours he spent in tunnel with his 11 colleagues till they were rescued by ITBP

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

Mr. Singh, 33, a welder, was the first to be rescued from one of the two blocked tunnels at Tapovan. 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.

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 Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel. โ€œThe tunnel, about four metres high, was covered in a mix of debris and water for up to three metres,โ€ he said on the phone from the ITBPโ€™s hospital in Joshimath.

Mr. Singh said it was a faint network on his phone that saved them. โ€œWe managed to drag ourselves up to 350 metres to the end of the tunnel, where we saw some light… I noticed that my BSNL phone had network. I first called my office manager and then my brother,โ€ he said. An ITBP team, deployed 15 km away, was rushed to the tunnel.

Efforts are on to rescue those stuck in the second tunnel at Tapovan.

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