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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Meghalaya miners’ rescue operations stepped up as hope fails

Earlier, rescue teams at the site said that a foul smell emanating from the water on Wednesday reported by one of the divers was in all likelihood because of stagnation when the operation was suspended on Christmas Day.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2018 12:27 IST
Sadiq Naqvi and Padma Rao Sundarji
Sadiq Naqvi and Padma Rao Sundarji
Guwahati/New Delhi
An assessment team from Kirloskar Pumps (KBL) in Kolkata arrived at the remote site of Meghalaya mine on Thursday evening at the behest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, whose party is in the opposition in Meghalaya.
An assessment team from Kirloskar Pumps (KBL) in Kolkata arrived at the remote site of Meghalaya mine on Thursday evening at the behest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, whose party is in the opposition in Meghalaya.(AFP)
         

Even as criticism mounted of the Meghalaya state government’s inability to rescue 15 miners trapped in the flooded rat-hole Ksan coal mines in East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, an assessment team from Kirloskar Pumps (KBL) in Kolkata arrived at the remote site of the accident on Thursday evening at the behest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, whose party is in the opposition in Meghalaya.

“It is when I started getting calls from my party colleagues that no meaningful action had been taken for two weeks that I used my personal connection to (industrialist) Sanjay Kirloskar who is a good friend and has been helpful in the Kerala floods and the Thailand cave rescue,” Tharoor said in an e-mail.

Rescue operations at the remote site in Meghalaya have been marked by tardiness during the festive season.

“Divers could not go inside the pit as the crane operator did not turn up because of Christmas,” Santosh Singh, who is supervising the operations of the 71-personnel strong National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescue team said on Thursday.

The pumping stopped on Monday as the available pumps were ineffective and stronger ones were needed.

A request for 10 pumps of 100 HP , survey teams to detect seepage and other assistance from state-owned Coal India was made by district administration in a letter to the state government on December 20, but the corporation received the communication for assistance from Shillong only on December 26.

JK Borah, general manager, North Eastern Coalfields said “seven pumps have been mobilised by Coal India.”

According to officials, moving the other equipment to the site of the accident will take another three to four days.

A Coal India team arrived in Shillong on Thursday and will visit the site on Friday for assessment.

Earlier, rescue teams at the site said that a foul smell emanating from the water on Wednesday reported by one of the divers was in all likelihood because of stagnation when the operation was suspended on Christmas Day.

“It has been fourteen days now. The chances of the trapped miners surviving are very slim,” acting Additional district magistrate SS Syiemlieh said.

Tharoor dismissed suggestions that given the bleak chances of finding the miners alive, the accident was becoming a theater for political one-upmanship.

“I am mystified by any allegations of political posturing since the only intention is to save lives,” Tharoor said. “One still clings to hope because of the precedent of Chilean floods when miners survived almost a month without food.”

(With inputs from David Laitphlang in Shillong).

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 23:36 IST

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