Two days after a highly decomposed body of a miner was pulled out of the rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya, Indian Naval divers on Saturday detected another body inside the 370-feet deep flooded coal mine where 15 miners remain trapped since December 13.
“They (Navy) detected another body at 3.18 a.m. with the help of an underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV),” a senior rescue official who wished not to be named told IANS.
“During their search (operation), the Navy team also stumbled on tell-tale signs like spades, a wooden cart and then located the dead miner inside the mine,” he said.
The rescue official said the second body was detected from the same rat-hole coal mine where the UROV found the first body of a miner on January 16 — 32 days after the miners got trapped inside the mine on December 13 as water gushed in.
“The divers are now making efforts to pull out the body. We are hopeful of taking it out as soon as possible,” he said.
The body of a coal miner identified that of one Amir Hussain of western Assam’s Chirang district, was located by the navy’s underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV) on 17 January at a depth of approximately 160 feet and 210 feet inside the mine.
On January 21, the Indian Navy had suspended the rescue operation of the body citing “too much disintegration”.
Coal India Limited, Odisha firefighters and Kirloskar Brothers Limited mounted rescue operations dewatering the abandoned coal mine shafts and the main shaft where the miners got trapped.
Though high power pumps, including ten 63 HP pumps from Odisha Fire Rescue, managed to pump out several litres of water from inside the mine, 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.
(With inputs from IANS)