The Indian Army on Tuesday joined operations to rescue the 14 miners stuck in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills District since December 13. Last week, the body of one of the miners was pulled out. Another body was detected on Saturday but it has not yet been retrieved.

“The Indian Navy had requested the Army to assist in rescue operations by providing administrative support and it has now set up camps at the site,” Defence Spokesperson Ratnakar Singh told PTI.

Singh said an Army team of 20 to 25 personnel has been deployed to assist Navy operations in the mine. “This is only administrative support to the Navy in case need be, for efficient, smooth and round-the-clock operations,” he added.

A defence ministry official told IANS that the soldiers will provide logistical support to the Navy. “The Navy divers on Monday could not make headway in retrieving the body of another miner from inside the rat-hole mine,” a rescue officer told the agency. He said this was because the Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle got entangled with a wooden cart inside the mine.

“They are trying recover the vehicle,” the officer added. “They will lower another remotely operated vehicle into the mine tomorrow.”

The Supreme Court had on Monday told the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue rescue operations in the mine, even though the state told the bench that the trapped miners may have died.