Meghalaya mining accident: Foul smell in mine as water stagnates, pumps will take ‘4 more days to arrive’
As 15 miners remain trapped in the rat-hole Ksan coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, a diver of the National Disaster Response Force team reported a foul smell on Wednesday, NDRF officials said.
“Foul smell could be a result of the fact that pumping has stopped since Monday and water is stagnating,” said Santosh Singh, who is supervising the operations of the 71-personnel strong NDRF team which is on the spot. A team of three divers had gone inside the 320-350 feet deep main pit of the coal mine on Wednesday. A source said one of the three reported the foul smell.
“Since Monday divers had also not gone inside the pit as the crane operator had not turned up because of Christmas,” Santosh said.
The pumping out of water was stopped on Monday as the available pumps were ineffective and the rescuers needed stronger pumps. A request for these was sent to state-owned Coal India on December 22 but they received the communication only on December 26.
Coal India received the state government’s request for powerful pumps, pipes and other assistance and is in the process of preparing for the operation, according to officials
Moving pumps to the accident site will take another 3 to 4 days, according to officials.
Watch: Rescue operations underway for 15 miners trapped in flooded Meghalaya mine
JK Borah, General Manager North Eastern Coalfields said, “They are big pumps and are being mobilized from Asansol, Dhanbad, Nagpur, Bilaspur and will come by road. They will take three to four days to get to the spot,” he said.
Santosh said the NDRF team is just able to get to 30 feet of the 70 feet water in the pit and it was important to dewater the mine for the NDRF to be able to get to the bottom. The 15 miners are said to be trapped in a rat hole, a horizontal lateral tunnel at the bottom of the main pit after it got flooded.
The NDRF, according to a source, has requested the district administration to arrange for a sterilized container so that a water sample from the pit could be sent for a test to ascertain contamination.