The entire country watched in bated breath as 41 workers trapped in the collapsed Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand for 16 days were rescued and brought out safely on November 28. The last leg of the rescue operation, which took over 400 hours, was completed by a seven-member team of rat-hole miners brought in from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh.

An apparent image of rescue workers who took part in the operation is being shared on social media where the group can be seen holding the Indian flag and posing for the cameras with a big smile, seemingly inside the tunnel. Several politicians and media houses used the image while sharing the news of the rescue.

Union minister and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju tweeted about the successful rescue operation on X (formerly Twitter) on November 28 with four images from the site, including the image mentioned above. (Archive)

BJYM national secretary Tajinder Bagga (@TajinderBagga), the ambassador of Israel to India Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) and Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) also shared the same image on November 28.

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PTI used the image in their syndicated copy and the same was picked up by several news outlets such as Hindustan Times, News 18, The New Indian Express, Loksatta, India Today. India Today described them as National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel.

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Fact Check

We noticed that Naor Gilon credited X account @Exclusive_Minds for the image in the tweet. The image also consisted of a watermark on the bottom-right of the picture. The text said: “Exclusive Minds.”

We checked the X page @Exclusive_Minds and found that the page had shared the same image on November 28 along with several other images of the same theme with the caption: “Uttarkashi Tunnel Rescue Successfully. 💪❤️ #UttrakhandTunnel”. These images were shared in a Twitter thread where the last tweet in the thread carried a disclaimer stating that these images were AI-generated.

We also noticed several irregularities in the photo which are commonly seen in images created with the help of artificial intelligence. Below we have pointed out some of these. While the faces of the men in the front are clear and realistic, the faces in the back seem distorted. The image also shows several of the men with deformed fingers, which is an error typical of AI-generated images.

To sum up, the image that is being shared as workers/ NDRF personnel who took part in the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue operation is artificially generated. It is not a real image.

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