The Indian Navy on Sunday abandoned efforts to pull out the decomposed body of a miner it spotted last week inside a coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, citing too much disintegration, the Hindustan Times reported.

“The Navy today [Sunday] suspended the pulling of the remains, which they had been trying since yesterday evening, as too much disintegration [of the body] took place with every pull by the ROV [remotely-operated vehicle] jaw,” said rescue operation spokesperson R Susngi. He added the Navy divers were waiting for further instructions from the government.

The development came a day after the families of four of the 15 miners trapped inside the illegal rat hole mine urged rescuers to retrieve the body so that they could perform its last rites. Fifteen miners were trapped inside on December 13.

Early on January 17, the Navy had spotted a body in the mine with the help of an unmanned, remotely-operate vehicle at a depth of around 21 feet and attempted to bring it to the surface for identification.

An unidentified official of the National Disaster Response Force said one of the remotely-operated vehicles is still attached to the body and that until the corpse is pulled out, the machine cannot go further into the rat hole to look for other miners.

“The Navy had pulled out the ROV after spotting the dead body on Wednesday,” an unidentified diver said. “It took many hours to spot it again.”

The Navy is using its second ROV to scan another rat hole. “It’s a maze of tunnels as you enter the rat hole. They branch out every ten feet,” another NDRF official said. “It’s not easy to do it without someone who has worked there.”

Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth had asked families of the trapped miners from West Garo Hills to come to the site in an effort to identify the body.

Susngi said that Coal India had continued to remove water from the two nearby abandoned coal shafts and their pumps had been operating for 23 hours since Saturday evening.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had expressed dissatisfaction at the rescue operations and had pulled up the administration for not taking prompt and effective steps to rescue the trapped miners.