Navy divers join search for Meghalaya miners

Navy divers join search for Meghalaya miners

Photo by Anuwar Ali Hazarika at Ksan in Meghalaya

Sixteen days after 15 miners got trapped in a 250-feet deep coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, Navy divers on Saturday joined a multi-agency search operation amid hope for a miracle concerning their fate.

Navy divers got into the pit around 3 pm for a survey while at least 15 more powerful water pumps reached the mishap site, 13 days after NDRF personnel had requested for the same. The NDRF team, which reached the site on December 14, had sought at least ten 100 horsepower pumps as the two 25 horsepower pumps they used could not reduce the 70-feet water in the pit.

“I went down inside the pit with the Navy team and briefed them about our efforts so far and the challenges we faced. The water level still remains the same and we have found no objects in the water except three plastic helmets. So from tomorrow (Sunday) morning a multi-agency search operation will begin,” Santosh Kumar Singh, the assistant commandant of NDRF’s 1st battalion, based in Guwahati told DH over phone from the mishap site. Singh has been camping there along with 70 other personnel since December 14.

“Water pumps and personnel of Odisha fire and emergency services have also reached but they could not install their machines today ( due to lack of some small equipments. They will install the machines tomorrow (Sunday) morning to pump out the water. Mining experts of Coal India Limited and another expert Jaswant Singh Gill have also reached and we hope the search will begin tomorrow morning,” he said.

The miners got trapped in the pit at Ksan, situated about 150-km east of Meghalaya capital Shillong after water gushed on December 13, after they probably cut its wall. The pit is situated close to a river.

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. Many asked why the Centre did rush experts and equipment quickly whereas it was eager to assist the rescue of 12 footballers, who got trapped in a cave in Thailand in June this year.

The navy team is armed with a re-compression chamber and remote operated vehicles for underwater search.

Gill, who had also visited the site on December 16 told, DH that hope about survival of the miners was thin and all could just hope for a miracle now.

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