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Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue: AI-Generated Image Showing Rescuers With Tricolour Goes Viral; Fact-Checked

An AI-generated image of rescuers at the Silkyara went viral on social media platforms following the operation, which ended after 16 days of relentless efforts by rescue officials. It was also carried by several news outlets.

NDRF personnel on standby at the entrance of the Silkyara Bend-Barkot Tunnel in Uttarkashi.
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Several mainstream media houses fell prey to an AI-generated photograph and carried it along with their articles about the rescue operation of 41 labourers who were evacuated from the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The image showed rescuers holding the Indian tricolour while posing for the camera after the successful evacuation of the workers.

The image went viral on social media platforms following the operation, which ended after 16 days of relentless efforts by rescue officials. It was also shared by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore from his profile on X, along with other photos of the rescue operation.

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The AI-generated image shared by former Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh. X/@Ra_THORe
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The AI-generated image shared by BJYM leader Tajinder Bagga X/@TajinderBagga

Subsequently, several leading media outlets, including Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, News18, India Today, and Loksatta, carried it with their articles, crediting it to news agency PTI. Press Trust of India (PTI) had uploaded the AI photograph as part of their syndicated feed from where the other news outlets picked it.

Fact-Check On Image

Senior journalist and fact-checker Mohammed Zubair even pointed it out on X, asking why so many people were sharing the AI-generated image of rescuers at the Silkyara tunnel site. 

PTI has now killed the photo on the syndicated feed and issued an advisory saying it is a fake image. 

Evacuation Of 41 Workers At Uttarkashi Tunnel

After sixteen days of rigorous efforts by experts and rescue personnel, all 41 workers trapped in an under-construction tunnel at Silkyara in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi were rescued in a swift evacuation process on Tuesday evening. Sweets were distributed at the site. Happiness and relief were on the faces of all the people awaiting this moment for the past two weeks. Firecrackers were burst at the labourers' villages, celebrating their rescue. 

The operation reached a breakthrough moment when the pipe inserted to evacuate the workers was successfully pushed across to the other side of the debris. The labourers were being pulled out one by one on wheeled stretchers. 

Ambulances kept on standby carried the workers to a 41-bed hospital specially set up for them, where they were kept for the night under observation. They were all shifted to AIIMS-Rishikesh in a Chinook helicopter this afternoon. 

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