The whole nation was worried when a portion of the under-construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel collapsed on November 12. 41 men were trapped inside the tunnel and rescue teams from different government agencies roped in for Uttarkashi tunnel rescue. The herculean task of the safe evacuation of 41 stranded men in the Silkyara tunnel was completed on Nov 28. When machines failed to free the 41 trapped workers in a collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi, officials enlisted the help from miners of a banned practice known as "rat-hole" mining. Rat-hole” mining is the practice which is done by burrowing in tight spaces. Half a dozen of ‘Rat-miners’ started working on November 27, after a second drilling machine broke down with 15 meters left to reach the trapped men. Working for more than 24 hours, they split up into two teams of three, with one person drilling, the second collecting the debris and the third pushing it out of the pipe. Rescuers successfully pulled out the workers after a 17-day ordeal on November 28. "Rat-hole" mining is a dangerous and controversial method used to extract thin seams of coal. The name comes from its resemblance to rats digging pits into the ground. The pits are just big enough for workers, often children, to descend using ropes or ladders to extract coal - often without safety measures and proper ventilation. The practice became illegal in the 1970s, when India nationalized coal mines and gave state-run Coal India a monopoly. But many small mine owners continued to employ short people or children in “rat-hole” mining, and federal authorities didn’t interfere.