The Navy on Saturday detected another body of a miner trapped in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills District for nearly 45 days, the Hindustan Times reported. It came two days after rescuers pulled out the first body on Thursday. Fifteen workers have been trapped in the mine since December 13.
“As informed by the Indian Navy, another dead body detected this morning at 3 am around 280 feet inside the rat hole,” Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district FM Dopth said. This body was detected in the same rat-hole coal mine where the first body was detected on January 17, a rescue official said.
“During their search [operation], the Navy team also stumbled on tell-tale signs like spades, a wooden cart and then located the dead miner inside the mine,” the unidentified official said. “The divers are now making efforts to pull out the body. We are hopeful of taking it out as soon as possible.”
Early on January 17, the Navy had spotted the first 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. But it was recovered only on January 24. The deceased was identified as Amir Hussain of western Assam.
About 200 personnel from the Navy, National Disaster Response Force, Coal India, and Kirloskar Brothers Limited are part of the mission to rescue the trapped miners. But rescue operations have been marred by extremely high water levels in the mine. Over 1 crore litres of water have been pumped out of the main shaft of the 370-foot-deep mine. Another 2 crore litres of water has been pumped out from adjacent mines, but the rescuers still do not know how and where the water is coming from.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had pulled up the government for its inefficiency in conducting rescue efforts and had asked for updates. It had also asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to seek assistance from experts and continue the efforts.
On January 15, the court had again rebuked the government, this time for not curbing illegal mining in the state. It had also refused to give mine owners extra time to transport coal that was extracted before the National Green Tribunal banned coal mining in Meghalaya in 2014.