Day 19: Meghalaya miners: Rescue ops continue but nothing found yet 

The Meghalaya rescue operations continued on Monday as the Navy, NDRF and the Odisha Fire Service team continue with their efforts to reach out to the 15 trapped miners in the flooded mine

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IANS photo
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NH Web Desk

With chances of the trapped miners emerging alive receding, Navy divers went in again on Monday in an effort to retrieve the bodies, if possible. On Sunday the teams started draining the mine of water, an exercise that is expected to take six days.

The Navy divers will also be deploying an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), if the divers can reach the pit.

Officials stated that the Navy divers who went down into the mine on Sunday would again descend into the mines in an attempt to find the miners. They had also requested that more halogen bulbs be fixed inside the mine shaft for better visibility.

Some sources state that the likelihood of the miners emerging alive after 19 days with no food or water is practically zero.

Lieutenant Commander Santosh Khetwal led a team of six divers, including five from the Navy and one from NDRF and assessed the depth of the water in the illegal coal mine.

Two Naval divers dived about 80 feet inside the main shaft of the flooded coal pit, but couldn't locate any of the trapped miners.

The divers spent more than two hours inside the pit in a inflatable raft with all necessary equipment.

"They dived about 80 feet inside the main shaft of the coal pit but they couldn't locate anything due to high accumulation of water in the pit," said Assistant Commandant NDRF, Santosh Kumar Singh.

"We have decided to resume pumping of water from the pit on Monday morning with 100 horsepower pumps from Odisha fire services. Moreover, we have decided that Navy and NDRF divers will simultaneously dive inside during the water extraction so that we can try to get to the bottom of the pit," he said.

Noting that the ultimate aim of the rescuers is to evacuate the trapped miners, Singh said, "Rescuers never lose hope, as we work to rescue them."

The Indian Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had begun their operation on Sunday, December 30 to rescue the 15 miners trapped inside a flooded illegal coal pit in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, but there was no news of the miners.

Day 19: Meghalaya miners: Rescue ops continue but nothing found yet 

Coal India Limited (CIL) continued to surveyed the abandoned coal mines located at the adjacent areas of the mining tragedy site. They have set up pumps in the adjacent shafts in an attempt to remove the water.

"We have surveyed the abandoned mines. We will soon get one of the six submersible high-capacity equipment that can dewater 500 gallon per minute," AK Bharali, General Manager of CIL, Kolkata said.

Crew members of Odisha Fire Services have placed their 100 horsepower pumps at the tragedy site to remove the water from the pit.

The district administration had temporarily suspended the pumping out of water from the coal pit after two 25 horsepower pumps became ineffective due to continuous operations.

The Meghalaya police have also arrested Jrin alias Krip Chulet, the owner of the coal mine, from Narwan village. Police said that a hunt is ongoing for other people including the manager of the illegal coal mine.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal and sought immediate Central support to rescue the trapped miners.

Sangma had also promised that "appropriate action will be taken at appropriate time against those involved in the illegal mining".

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With inputs from agencies

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