Naval divers detects body of miner in Meghalaya

Naval divers detects body of miner in Meghalaya

The body was brought to the mouth of the rat-hole mine, they said adding the rescue operations were going on. (AFP File Photo)

Navy's deep divers equipped with an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) have detected the body of one of the 15 coal miners, 34 days after they got trapped in a flooded illegal mine in Meghalaya.

"One body has been detected by navy divers with the help of underwater ROV at a depth of 160 feet. The body has been pulled up to the mouth of a rat hole and shall be retrieved under the supervision of doctors," a navy spokesperson tweeted.

“The body has been pulled up to 100 feet and many parts have started to disengage. Family members of three victims from Lumthari village in Meghalaya district and two from Chirang district in Assam were invited to the site to see the video of the ROV. They were told that according to the experts, the body has signs of decomposition and efforts to retrieve it will lead to total disintegration. The kin will give their views by tomorrow,” official spokesperson R Susngi said in a statement.

A 15-member team of divers from Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command had joined the search on December 29. NDRF, Odisha fire service, Coal India, Kirloskar Brothers, Indian Institute of Hydrology, among others, have been carrying out search since the miners got trapped in the mine in East Jaintia Hills district on December 13.

The agencies used several high powered pumps but water did not recede, probably because the flooded shafts in nearby areas are connected underneath.

The miners dig horizontal holes inside the vertical shafts and crawl inside to extract coal, thus giving it the name rat-hole mining.

The Navy team was rushed after  Opposition political parties, including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, slammed the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for neglecting the search operation.

Meghalaya government has faced severe criticism for allegedly failing to enforce an order of the National Green Tribunal in 2014, which banned coal mining in the state due to lack of safety measures and adverse impact on the environment.