There is still hope for Meghalaya miners, says expert

The ongoing rescue operation in Meghalaya where 15 coal miners are trapped inside a narrow coal mine for the last 18 days may take another week to complete, said mining expert Jaswant Singh Gill. He said given the nature of the terrain and the ongoing efforts, a minimum of seven days will be required before the miners are traced.

Gill said despite the high power pumps that have been airlifted to the spot, pumping out water from the vertical mines will be a tough task.

The miners have been trapped in the mine in the Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it.

Speaking about the rescue operations, he said the pumps have reached the spot. “We are arranging electricity and it will take around a week to pump out the water.”

He said in the past there have been instances when people were rescued even after 21 days.

Navy divers join rescue efforts

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force helicopters transporting sophisticated diving equipment of the Indian Navy landed at a football ground near the mines. The machines are to be transported to the accident site, 37 km from the football ground, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sylvester Nongtynger told news agency PTI.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is coordinating the rescue operations with the help of Navy, the NDMA and Coal India Ltd.

The Navy divers are likely to go inside the vertical shaft of the rat-hole coal mine Sunday, the SP said.

“The Navy divers have reported that they have the capacity to go a depth of 100 feet, whereas the NDRF divers can go to a depth of 30 feet,” he said.

A 14-member Navy team led by Lt Commander R Khetwal and a 21-member Odisha Fire Service contingent have been visiting the site since Saturday, Asst Commandant Santosh Kumar Singh said.

Meanwhile, a group of Indian Navy divers arrived from Vishakhapatnam Saturday to join operations underway to rescue 15 miners trapped in a flooded rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13.

The 15-member team, equipped with specialised diving equipment, including a re-compression chamber and remotely operated vehicles capable of searching underwater, went straightway to the mine site in the remote Lumthari village in East Jaintia Hills district.

They were briefed in detail by the NDRF personnel supervising the entire rescue operations since their arrival on December 14, a senior official of the East Jaintia Hills district said.

A team of rescuers with 10 high-powered Kirloskar pumps has also reached the spot from Bhubaneshwar, District Superintendent of Police Sylvester Nongtynger told PTI on Saturday.

Another 8 high powered pumps mobilised by Coal India Ltd are being taken by road and expected to arrive in another 2 to 3 days, North Eastern Coalfields general manager J Bora said Saturday.

Pump manufacturing company Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and Coal India were jointly moving 18 high-powered pumps to drain water out of the 370-foot-deep mine.

The rat-hole mine located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees had got flooded when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it on December 13, trapping the 15 diggers.

Pumping of water from the mine was suspended on Saturday last as there was no visible receding of the water level in it.

(With inputs from PTI)

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