Meghalaya miners: Navy suspends op as bodies ‘disintegrate’ under water; await SC ruling

The Indian Navy suspended their operations to retrieve the bodies of the trapped miners because of the “disintegration” of the body but the victims families still want the body parts retrieved

Photo Courtesy: IANS
Photo Courtesy: IANS

NH Web Desk

The Indian Navy suspended their operations to retrieve the bodies of the trapped miners because of the “disintegration” of the bodies. One body was detected on January 18 by the underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) at a depth of about 160 feet in the rat-hole mine at Ksan village in East Jaintia Hills district.

The body had been detected 32 days after the miners had got trapped inside the mine on December 13 because of the mine being filled by water.

The Meghalaya government stated that it would inform the Supreme Court of the difficulties in continuing the operations and will act according to what the Supreme Court suggests.

“The Navy today suspended the pulling of the remains, which they had been trying since yesterday evening, as too much disintegration (of the body) took place with every pull by the ROV jaw,” said operation spokesperson R Susngi. The Navy had earlier said that there is a probability of the body breaking into pieces and disintegrating if attempts were made to retrieve it.

But the families of the victims want the bodies recovered, even if they are only body parts.

Legal Correspondent Krishnadas Rajagopal tweeted that the rescue operations were not abandoned. According to his tweet, “Anand Grover alleges operation to find trapped #Meghalaya miners "abandoned". NDRF, rescuers just waiting at site to get SC word to call off op. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta categorically responds the operation has not been abandoned and is still on @the_hindu@abaruah64.”

The Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma stated that the ROV had detected the body but could not retrieve the body because the body was too heavy for it to do so and the divers also have not been able to retrieve the body because of the water level within the mine. He also said that the bodies were decomposing and this made it harder for those trying to retrieve it.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer had earlier expressed their dissatisfaction with the rescue operation and ordered that: “No matter whether they (trapped persons) are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should have been taken out by now. We pray to God that they all are alive.”

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 India Limited, Odisha firefighters, Kirloskar Brothers Limited were dewatering the abandoned coal mine shafts and the main shaft where the miners are trapped but the water level has not yet gone down.

In the last few days, Coal India has managed to pump out over 52 lakh litres of water from the adjacent mines but the efforts were not enough to bring the water level down enough for the rescue operations to go on unhindered. The Kirloskar Brothers Limited which is also part of the rescue efforts have managed to pump out over 45 lakh litres of water, said Susngi according to an Indian Express report.

(with inputs from PTI and Indian Express)

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