Meghalaya Mine Tragedy: One body pulled out from mine after 42 days, 14 remain traceless

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Rescue personnel take out body of one of the 15 miners. (Photo Courtesy: HT Photo)

SHILLONG, Jan 24: Indian Navy team on Thursday managed to pull out body of one of the 15 miners trapped inside a 370-feet deep coal mine since December 13, 42 days after the unfortunate tragedy.

The highly decomposed body was pulled to the water surface by an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and then taken out from the rat hole mine in Ksan village in East Jaintia Hills district.

The body was spotted last week by the rescue operations team. But it had disintegrated and slipped to the bottom of the main shaft as the Navy tried to pull it out of the flooded mine.

Also Read: No coal mining in Meghalaya sans Central approval of mining plan: Conrad

“We have recovered the body and it is heavily decomposed,” said Santosh Kumar Singh, an official from the National Disaster Response Force.

Navy divers detected the body using a ROV at a depth of around 160 feet inside the main shaft last week. But the body retrieval operation had to be put on hold as the body started to disintegration when attempted to pull it out.

They resumed efforts to pull out the body on Tuesday on the advice of the district administration.

The 15 miners were trapped after water gushed into the abandoned illegal mine located in Ksan village, about 130 km from the state capital Shillong. Only five managed to escape.

The miners’ families have said that they want the bodies to be taken out as per a Supreme Court order.

Also Read: Meghalaya coal mine tragedy: Eighteen high powered pumps enroute to mining site

The retrieval mission

The body was pulled out in a joint operation by the NDRF and Indian Navy.

It took six men – 2 from the NDRF, 3 navy men and one civil hospital staffer – to pull out the body from the flooded mine. The rescuers went into the shaft in two teams with an inflatable boat, a body bag and other NDRF equipment.

The body was finally packed and pulled out from a depth of 170 feet in the 355-foot deep main shaft of the mine. The body was handed over to the officer in charge PS Saipung in the presence of civil administration.

Police official said the body is largely intact but the face is slightly disfigured.

Also Read: Meghalaya Mine Tragedy: 15 lakh litres of water pumped out of mine, no headway made

81 lakh litres of water pumped out in 24 hours 

In the past 24 hours, teams of pump operators from Coal India Ltd, Odhisa Fire Service and Kirloskar Brothers Ltd have discharged over 81 lakh litres of water from the nearby abandoned mines.

Meghalaya Govt announces Rs 1 lakh interim relief 

The Meghalaya government has announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief for families of all the trapped miners and the Supreme Court is monitoring the case on a weekly basis. The next hearing is scheduled for January 28.

Coal mine accidents have been rampant in the mountainous state due to unscientific “rat hole mining” even after National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban in April 2014.

Also Read: Coal mine owner engaged in illegal mining on the run

(With inputs from agencies)