Silkyara tunnel rescue: A profile of Arnold Dix, the Aussie at the site

The tunnelling expert has a science and law degree from Monash University, Melbourne, and his website describes him as an accomplished lawyer

Screengrab of Arnold Dix praying at the makeshift shrine next to the Silkyara tunnel
Screengrab of Arnold Dix praying at the makeshift shrine next to the Silkyara tunnel
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NH Digital

A few days ago, Arnold Dix, the international tunnelling expert from Australia who worked hand-in-hand with the rescue team at Uttarkashi's Silkyara tunnel since 20 November, promised to bring out the 41 trapped workers "by Christmas". He must have been happy to be proved wrong as the ordeal ended much earlier on Tuesday evening — as the whole of India waited with baited breath. 

"The mountain has told us one thing, that is to be humble," Dix, who was flown in by the government, told the media on Tuesday morning as the recue team managed to make the breakthrough via 'rathole' mining expertise in the closing stages.  

"I feel good. I’ve never said it before... The drilling along the top of the mountain is coming along perfectly. In the tunnel, it is coming along very well. So, I feel good. I might have heard they (trapped workers) are playing cricket," said the expert.  

What are Dix’s credentials? Head of the Geneva-based International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, Dix brings an experience of over 30 years and is known for taking legal, environmental, political and ethical risks related to underground construction. 

The tunnelling expert has a science and law degree from Monash University, Melbourne, and his website describes him as an accomplished lawyer. "It is the uncertainty the future brings and the illusion of the wisdom of hindsight, that drives Professor Dix’s focused legal or scientific or engineering approach," reads the first line on his website

His career is marked by numerous accolades, reflecting his significant contributions to tunnel safety worldwide. In 2011, he received the Alan Neyland Australasian Tunnelling Society bi-annual award for excellence in tunnelling, specifically in tunnel fire safety. 


Dix’s efforts in enhancing fire safety in tunnels have been recognised as groundbreaking. In 2022, he was honoured with a Committee Service Award by the National Fire Protection Association of the United States of America, a testament to his continuous and valuable service in developing codes and standards for tunnel safety. 

Dix has donned many a hat throughout his career, mainly revolving around underground safety. He did volunteer work at the Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) from 2016-19. In 2020, Dix joined Lord Robert Mair Peter Vickery, QC, to form Underground Works Chambers.

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