Will try to pull out Meghalaya miner’s body today: State official
Officials in Meghalaya will make a fresh attempt on Tuesday to pull out the decomposing body of one of the miners trapped in an illegal coal mine in the state’s East Jaintia Hills district since December last year after the Indian Navy suspended its operations to retrieve it.
The corpse of one of the missing miners was spotted by the navy’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in one of the shafts on January 16. The body was in a highly decomposed state and authorities have sought the help of family members of the missing miners to identify the victim.
At least 15 miners got trapped in the rat-hole mine, located on a hillock fully covered with trees in Khloo Ryngksan of East Jaintia Hills district, when it was flooded on December 13. A miner Sayeb Ali, who was inside the mine at the time of accident and managed to come out has said there are two more workers inside the mine but police are still investigating the claim.
The Meghalaya government informed the Supreme Court on Monday that the operations at the rat-hole coal mine to look for survivors will continue. It also indicated that the workers trapped in the mine for more than a month may have died.
The status report, submitted by advocate Amit Kumar, said the bodies of the remaining 14 miners are behind the body, which is yet to be identified, spotted by the navy last week.
The top court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking its intervention in the matter. The Meghalaya government presented its status report on the court’s directions.
The state’s additional chief secretary in charge revenue and disaster management Peter W Ingty said the rescue operation will continue and that all aspects are being explored to find a closure eventually.
“We are not giving up and tomorrow (Tuesday) we are going to extract whatever we can,” he said while speaking to the Hindustan Times over the phone.
Chief minister Conrad K Sangma told journalists on Monday the situation was quite challenging and hence the navy had been requested to suspend retrieval efforts of the body that its ROV detected.
“We are yet to take a call on that. We are awaiting reports from the various organisations involved in the operation and once that comes in, we will then decide,” Sangma said.
“The input that we have received from the rescue teams, including the Indian Navy, is that the body is disintegrating and therefore it is becoming next to impossible so that’s why we’ve decided to suspend the operation as of now,” he said.
Meanwhile, for some families of the trapped miners, the hope of finding any survivors have now faded and it is now about a respectful funeral for their loved ones.
“We have told them that even if they manage to get us a piece of the dead body we will be able to at least bury it with respect,” said Manik Ali, whose 20-year-old brother Monirul Islam is trapped inside.
“Our religion demands it,” he said.
“Where would the rest of the bodies go? They must be inside the mine and they should be able to find them if they have found one,” he said.