Just days after the Indian Navy spotted the body of one of the trapped miners, the navy suspended the rescue mission late on Sunday citing “too much disintegration”.

Operation spokesperson Reginald Susngi said that the Navy suspended the pulling of the remains as “too much disintegration (of the body) took place with every pull by the ROV jaw”.

The Indian Navy had been trying since yesterday evening to pull out the bodies of the trapped miners.

The Navy had not ruled out the possibility of the body breaking into pieces and disintegrating if attempts are made to retrieve it.

On 17 January, the Indian Navy found the body of one of the miners trapped inside an illegal mine in Meghalaya since 13 December.

The divers captured pictures of a body inside the 370-feet flooded coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district. The body has been pulled out to the mouth of the mine from where extraction will be carried out under the supervision of doctors.

The Indian Navy said that the body was detected by an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) at a depth of approximately 160 feet and 210 feet inside the mine located in Ksan village, 130 kilometres from Shillong.

The miners were trapped when water from the nearby Lytein River flooded a network of tunnels inside the mine. Five other miners managed to escape and alert the locals.

Coal India Limited, Odisha firefighters, Kirloskar Brothers Limited were dewatering the abandoned coal mine shafts and the main shaft where the miners are trapped.

According to the spokesperson, the Coal India had pumped out over 52 lakh litres of water in the last 46 hours from the nearby abandoned mines. Yet the water level did not go down.

High power pumps, including ten 63 HP pumps from Odisha Fire Rescue, had earlier managed to pump out several litres of water from inside the mine but even then the water level remains the same.

The multi-agency rescue operation began only on the 16th day of the incident.

The Meghalaya government had roped in several central agencies including a team from Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute and Chennai-based Planys Technologies in the rescue operation.

Coal mine accidents that have been rampant in the mountainous state for their unscientific “rat hole mining” habits even after a National Green Tribunal imposed an interim ban April 2014.

The Supreme Court had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with the rescue efforts to trace the miners and rapped the Meghalaya government for not seeking the army’s help. The state government was likely to apprise the apex court of the problems in continuing with the search-and-rescue operations.

(With inputs from agencies.)