Navy recovers one body from Meghalaya coal mine tragedy


New Delhi/Shillong:¬†Navy divers Thursday found a body in an illegal rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills where 15 miners were trapped since December 13, officials said.

“One body detected by Indian Navy divers using underwater ROV at a depth of approx 160 feet and 210 feet inside a rat-hole mine,” a Navy spokesperson said in a statement.

The body has been brought up to the mouth of the rat-hole mine and will be extracted out of it under the supervision of doctors, the officials said, adding the rescue operations were going on.

The district authorities, however, are tight-lipped on the development.

The Meghalaya Cabinet on Wednesday discussed the ongoing rescue operations to trace the 15 miners, who are trapped inside an illegal flooded coal mine for more than a month now.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who also handles the mining and geology department, and Home Minister James Sangma apprised the Cabinet about the latest rescue situation at Ksan village in State’s East Jaintia Hills district.

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynosng on the possibility of calling off the rescue operation said, “Till this moment the experts are still on the job. Until and unless we get their views, we cannot say anything. Once that is done, then we will accordingly file an¬†affidavit in the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court-monitored rescue operation is aimed at taking out the trapped miners “dead or alive”.

On the expenditure incurred in the rescue operation, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “We are yet to know the details. This has been handled by the district administration.”

Meanwhile, the Coal India Limited has informed the district administration that the water level at the main shaft, where the 15 miners are trapped, and the abandoned shafts remained the same despite several million gallons of water being pumped out.

The Indian Navy lowered the underwater remotely operated vehicle at the main shaft, but failed to capture any of the trapped miners.

Scientists from the Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute conducted the micro gravimetric measurement and differential position profile system to identify the seepage of water in the main shaft.

Experts from the Chennai-based Plenys Technology continue to conduct the sonar mapping of the shaft to identify the rat-hole tunnel.

On December 13, water from nearby Lytein River flooded a network of tunnels in the 370-foot-deep coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping 15 men and prompting a multiple-agency rescue attempt.