Not abandoning trapped miners' rescue op, Centre to SC

Naval divers look at the captured pictures of one of the 15 miners trapped in illegal rat mines since December 13, in Ksan area of East Jaintia Hills, on January 17, 2019. PTI

The Union government on Monday told the Supreme Court that it is not abandoning the operation to rescue 15 miners trapped for more than a month inside an illegal rat-hole coal mine filled with water in a remote part of Meghalaya.

In its status report, the state government said on January 16, the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) of the Indian Navy had detected a body at a depth of 210 feet in the flooded mine and efforts were being made to retrieve it but could not be completed as the body parts started disintegrating.

A bench of justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer said the Centre and the state should look into the suggestions made by petitioner Aditya N Prasad with regard to the rescue operation and posted the matter for further hearing next week.

The court is hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Prasad, who sought urgent steps to rescue the 15 miners trapped in the mine since December 13.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said it is a human tragedy and the matter cannot be treated as adversarial. He said both the Centre and the state government are not abandoning the operation and taking measures to rescue the miners.

Meghalaya's Advocate General Amit Kumar submitted the status report, detailing the steps taken to rescue the miners from January 7 to January 17. He said due to the condition in the rat-hole, there are signs of decay, making the extraction process difficult.

"In the process of pulling the body, the skull, the left wrist, and the leg from the knee level got disengaged. It is the considered opinion of the naval team that if the body is pulled further, there will be a total disintegration of different parts, rendering the same virtually impossible to retrieve... Presumably and as per the latest reports, the bodies of the remaining miners are behind the body detected on January 16," the report said.

It said a medical team has advised them against pulling the body as it may cause complete disintegration.

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Not abandoning trapped miners' rescue op, Centre to SC

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