Nearly five-hour search by deep divers of the Indian Navy and NDRF inside the 350-feet deep pit in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district on Sunday yielded no results regarding the whereabouts of 15 coal miners missing since December 13.
A team of six divers went inside the coal mine around 2 pm and carried out a survey to gauge the water level and the depth of the 'rat holes' inside the mine, where the miners are believed to have been trapped since water gushed in from a nearby abandoned mine.
"The divers found no objects underwater today. The search will continue tomorrow," Santosh Kumar Singh, the assistant commandant of NDRF's 1st battalion based in Guwahati, told DH over the phone from the mishap site. Singh and 70 other NDRF personnel have been camping at the mishap site since December 14.
The miners got trapped in the pit at Ksan, situated about 150-km east of Meghalaya capital Shillong when water gushed in after they probably cut its wall. Although it was suspected that water had entered from a river close to the pit, mining expert Jashwant Singh Gill rejected such belief saying the river is situated below the level of the coal mine. "Water entered from the abandoned mines and it may take days to pump out the water," Gill, who is also camping there, said. Pumping of water will begin based on the survey of the diving team.
Sources said the rescuers suspect the miners got trapped inside the rat holes dug below the mine base to extract coal after water entered fast within minutes after they entered. There is about 70-feet water in the mine at present.
Indian Navy on Friday rushed a 15-member diving team from Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command after the opposition parties including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi slammed the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for neglecting the search operation even after two weeks.
Personnel belonging to fire and emergency department of Odisha, mining engineers of Coal India Limited, NDRF, SDRF and Kirloskar Brothers personnel are also part of the multi-agency search operation.