The nation collectively exhaled in relief as the dramatic rescue of 41 workers trapped inside Uttarakhand’s Silkyara-Barkot tunnel concluded successfully after 17 days. This monumental effort, spanning over 400 hours involved a tireless operation that navigated through 57 meters of debris, with 12 meters being manually excavated. The arduous process unfolded over two challenging weeks, testing the resolve, grit, and perseverance of those involved.
The operation faced numerous setbacks, with the final hurdle occurring over the weekend when the drilling machine faltered. Fourteen determined “rat-hole miners” took matters into their own hands, manually digging through the last 12 meters to reach the trapped workers.
While the nation celebrated this remarkable rescue, a twist emerged as an AI-generated image circulated widely. This misleading picture depicted the rescued miners inside the tunnel, proudly holding the Tricolour. Several media outlets published the image without verifying its authenticity.
Celebrations & tears of joy fill the air as 41 workers emerge from the Silkyara tunnel, each step echoing their strength & determination.
To those who waited for this moment, your spirit is our beacon.
A personal thank to the relief workers who worked tirelessly behind the… pic.twitter.com/6npkQt2c74
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) November 28, 2023
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju shared the AI-generated image as part of a set of four photos, capturing the emotional moments of the rescue. However, concerns about the image’s accuracy were raised by fact-checkers like Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt News. Social media users, including BJP leader Tejinder Bagga and Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon, unknowingly shared the AI-generated image.
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) November 28, 2023
Upon closer inspection, the photo revealed subtle distortions, such as a slight squint in the eyes of almost everyone depicted. The image also bore the watermark of “Exclusive Minds,” an account on X that claims to be a “citizens’ collective fighting against misinformation and misleading content on social media.” This account shared several AI-generated images showcasing the rescue operation with workers holding the Tricolour.
The rescued workers hailed from various states, with 15 from Jharkhand, eight from Uttar Pradesh, five each from Odisha and Bihar, three from West Bengal, two each from Uttarakhand and Assam, and one from Himachal Pradesh.