Divers to resume search for trapped Meghalaya miners tomorrow
The Indian Navy resumed its search operation on Tuesday with help of NDRF personnel in the main shaft for the 15 miners trapped in a flooded illegal coal mine in Ksan village of Meghalaya’s East Jaintia district since December 13 last year.
Officials said the navy diving team, along with National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) divers, went inside the main shaft and are jointly operating on a strategy that was planned. NRDF is also on standby with all their available resources to assist the Odisha fire service team for the installation of their pumps, they said.
“Odisha Fire Service is trying its best to run the machine and insert pumps inside to take out the water and check the water level in the main shaft,” R Susngi, spokesperson of the East Jaintia Hills district said, according to news agency ANI.
The official said out of the 15 people stuck in the rat hole mine, five are from Assam and ten, including three from East Jaintia Hill, belong to Meghalaya.
Odisha Fire Service and NRDF teams were able to dewater from the old shaft that lays few yards below the main shaft after replacement of new cable, box and accessories purchased by district administration. The volume of water pumped will be measured after a few hours, official said.
NDRF is offering its full corporation with all other agencies that visited the site for help, officials said. The district administration is also procuring the chassis of the crane and other logistics required to make at least three cranes in the old shafts nearby operational.
The navy had said on Monday that the search for the Meghalaya miners will be feasible only after the level of the water in the illegal structure comes down.
The navy divers re-entered the main shaft of the nearly 350-feet flooded mine with a remotely-operated device and came out after three hours of search for the miners.
It said visibility inside the shaft is very poor and at only around one feet at the bottom. The divers, who entered the shaft on Monday to survey the bottom using an UnderWater Remotely Operated Vehicle or UWROV, found some wooden structure inside the mine, as well as coal beneath.
They also found mud and a rat hole with coal at its mouth.
The 15 miners have been missing after the illegal coal mine they were digging got flooded in the coal-rich East Jaintia Hills, an area where illegal mining is rife and a National Green Tribunal ban on such activities has been in place for four years.
The remote mine is an hour’s drive and then a half-hour hike from the district headquarters of the East Jaintia Hills district. Only four-wheel-drive SUVs can navigate the three streams and the steep uphill dirt road that the last two-kilometre stretch comprises.
Later in the day, officials said that around 5:30pm, the fire services team from Odisha stopped pumping water from the old shaft located about 500 metres from the main shaft. After around three hours, it was found that the water level in the old shaft went down by six inches.
Navy divers, along with NDRF personnel, went inside the main shaft at around 4:30pm to check the water level and reported that it had not changed. The fire services team from Odisha will continue de-watering the old shaft tomorrow and they expect that after eight hours of pumping, the water level can be determined.