SHILLONG, December 31, 2018: The Indian Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Sunday began their operation to rescue 15 miners trapped inside a flooded illegal coal pit for 18 days in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, but there was no news as yet of the miners.
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,” Assistant Commandant NDRF, Santosh Kumar Singh told IANS.
“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.
Singh said that the Navy will also use the underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) on Monday’s rescue operation.
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.”
Coal India Limited (CIL) continued to surveyed the abandoned coal mines located at the adjacent areas of the mining tragedy site.
“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,” A.K. Bharali, General Manager of CIL, Kolkata said.
Crew members of Odisha Fire Services have placed their 100 horsepower pumps a tthe tragedy site to dewater the pit from Monday morning.
The district administration has temporarily suspended pumping out water from the coal pit since December 24 with the two 25 horsepower pumps became ineffective due to continuous operations.
Meghalaya police have arrested Jrin alias Krip Chulet, the owner of the coal mine, from Narwan village. Police said that a hunt is on for more 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”.