(Eds: adding fresh detail) Ranchi, May 22 (PTI) Five of the twenty-six migrant workers from Jharkhand who were stuck in Nepal due to COVID- triggered lockdwon there and are now on way to their home in Dumka have been isolated in an ambulance after found positive for the virus, an official said.
The migrant workers engaged in a project in Nepal by Larsen & Tourbro, through a contractor, had been stranded in the Himalayan country due to lockdown to rein in coronavirus surge and had been sending SOS messages including video messages to the Jharkhand government for rescue.
They arrived at Viratnagar on Bihar-Nepal border this morning and boarded a bus to their home town Dumka.
The workers are 40 km away from Dumka, the official said.
Distance between Viratnagar and Dumka is around 245 km.
'In the rapid antigen test, five of the 26 migrant workers have been found COVID positive and are being brought in an ambulance. None of them is serious,' Magistrate Rakesh Kumar accompanying them told PTI.
Rest of them are travelling together in a bus which has reached near Dumka and all arrangements have been made for their safety, he said, adding, masks and sanitisers have been given to them.
'All of the migrant workers had their lunch which included rice, vegetables and dal among other things,' the official said.
As soon as they reach Dumka, they will be subjected to tests and will be isolated, another official said.
'Our worker brothers have reached India-Nepal border.
Soon they will depart for Dumka. Team of officers and paramedics are at Viratnagar on Bihar-Nepal border to bring them home safely.
'RAT kits, dry ration, oxygen cylinder equipped ambulance have all been sent from Dumka,' said Deputy Commissioner Dumka, Rajeshwari B, who had flagged off a bus from Indoor stadium to Nepal border alongwith officials for the ferrying workers Friday.
A migrant worker coming home thanked Hemant Soren-led government for their rescue.
'We are sitting in a bus sent by the Jharkhand government.
We have been provided food.Apart from Subh Sandesh Foundation, Indian Youth Association, Nepal too helped us besides Chief Minister Hemant Soren, legislator Basant Soren and DC among others.Nepal people also helped us including media persons ...,' Narayan Das, a migrant worker, said in a video message.
The migrant workers hailing from Dumka district had appealed to the government for rescue, saying they were unwell and held up in Sindhupalchok district of Nepal.
Former legislator Kunal Sarangi, JMM Legislator Basant Soren took up their cause and chief minister Hemant Soren as well as Indian Embassy in Nepal also intervened.
'A prompt action was initiated for the return of migrant 26 workers stuck in Nepal at the instance of chief minister Hemant Soren. The state government took up the issue with the Nepal government.
'As a result of the initiatives, the workers will be returning to Jharkhand on Saturday,' a state government official had said.
Sarangi said members of Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal helped in locating the workers and also in their return back home.
Chief Minister's office said a bus and an ambulance were rushed to the Indo-Nepal border to bring back workers.
Approval from Nepal government had already been sought for this, the official added.
On their return, the workers will undergo health check and COVID tests, the official said.
The Jharkhand government has imposed lockdown-like restrictions that mandate compulsory seven-day quarantine for people coming to the state.
The workers will be brought to Dumka's indoor stadium first.
Former legislator and BJP leader Kunal Sarangi among others had escalated the matter urging the Ministry of External Affairs besides Indian Embassy in Nepal and others thanked the Indian Embassy in Nepal too for swinging into action.
A Larsen & Toubro spokesperson confirmed that the workers were engaged by the company at a project site through a contractor.
Chief minister Soren had on Thursday retweeted a message by a non-profit body Shubh Sandesh Foundation: 'Doing our best to assist 26 Jharkhand migrants stuck in Nepal. Our friends in Nepal are in touch coordinating food, travel pass, medicine etc for them.' Earlier, former legislator Sarangi had tweeted: 'I sincerely request @DrSJaishankar Sir & @IndiaInNepal to get it looked into. These poor migrant labourers from Jharkhand are stuck in Nepal and they are very unwell. Pls rescue them.' In earlier video messages the migrant workers were seen appealing to the Jharkhand government to rescue them while saying that they are stranded in Nepal due to the lockdown and most of them have fallen sick but are not getting any medical attention and food.
In a separate message later, the workers said that they have received a communication from the Shubh Sandesh Foundation that arrangements are being done for their safe return. PTI NAM SNS SNS