With one more body getting retrieved on Friday, so far three bodies from among the five trapped miners have been recovered from a flooded coal pit in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, where they were trapped 26 days ago, officials said.
Ibashisha Mawlong, Executive Director of the Meghalaya Disaster Management Authority, said that the third body was retrieved from the 152-feet deep pit by divers from the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The first body was retrieved on June 16, while the second body was recovered on Thursday.
Mawlong said: “The rescuers despite rainy weather, low visibility and other hurdles continued their efforts to recover all the five bodies from the coal mine.”
“The high water level in the coal mine hindered the rescue operations,” she told IANS over phone late on Friday night.
Mawlong, who is also Meghalaya’s Joint Secretary for Revenue and Disaster Management, said that rescue operations involving the NDRF are going on since the five workers got trapped inside the coal mine on May 30 and the efforts would continue till all the five bodies are recovered.
With remotely operated vehicles (ROV), Diver Hand Held Navigation System (DHNS) and other equipment, a 13-member Indian Navy team had joined the rescue operation on June 12, she added.
A Navy diver was also seriously injured during the hazardous operation.
According to Fire and Emergency Service officials, the vertical depth of water inside the pit is nearly 152 feet. Other rescuers said the depth of the rat hole mine would be more than 500 feet.
Following the accident at the mine in Umpleng Elaka Sutnga, East Jaintia Hills Superintendent of Police, Jagpal Singh Dhanoa, had said that the workers got trapped due the sudden rush of water inside the mine after it got inundated following a dynamite blast carried out to split the coal pit.
Of the five miners, four were from Assam while one was from Tripura. Six of their co-workers managed to save themselves as they were on the outer side of the mine.
The police had earlier arrested the mine owner, Shining Langstang, and charged him with violation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order banning unscientific mining and transportation of coal.
The manager of the mine is on the run and a lookout notice has been issued since he had brought workers from Assam and Tripura to work in the illegal mine.