A 13-member team of the Indian Navy on Sunday joined the operations to rescue five miners trapped at a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district, reported Shillong Times. The five labourers,four from Assam and one from Tripura, have been trapped inside the coal mine since May 30.

“The Indian Navy carried out an initial assessment of the situation by descending into the vertical mine and by using handheld sonar found that the depth of water is 110 feet,” a government official at the site told the newspaper. “A camp is being set up for the Navy to shift their equipment for next day’s operation.”

The national and state disaster response teams confirmed the water level before starting the dewatering process on Sunday. The personnel found that the levels had gone up by two feet in the main shaft due to the overnight downpour.

Rescue efforts were being disrupted due to continuous heavy rain, the official said.

As of Sunday, nearly 6.48 lakh liters of water had been pumped out of the main shaft and around 4.32 lakh liters out of the second shaft that is linked to the main shaft.

The Indian Navy team will use their remotely operated vehicle on Monday to ascertain the depth of the cave, an official told PTI.

Nearly 60 officials of the National Disaster Response Force and other state agencies are waiting for the water level in the 152-metre deep pit to fall to about 10 meters – the maximum level in which they can conduct the rescue operations.

Last week, the police arrested the owner of the coal mine, Shining Langstang but were still on the lookout for the “sordar [mine manager]” who the authorities have identified as the main culprit.

Rat-hole coal mining, considered to be hazardous, is not permitted in Meghalaya after the National Green Tribunal’s ban on it in 2014. Workers dig a deep vertical shaft till coal seams are found in the mine. Coal is then taken out through small holes along the horizontal line of the seams. After the National Green Tribunal’s ban in 2014, hazardous rat-hole coal mining has not been permitted in Meghalaya.