Meghalaya: Navy divers enter mine to find trapped miners
A couple of days after the Indian Air Force transported heavy-duty pumps to the rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya where 15 miners are trapped, rescue operations have resumed, and authorities are making the final push. As it stands, a team of Navy divers and NDRF personnel have entered the mine to try and find the trapped miners. Here are the details.
Backstory: The miners have been trapped for over two weeks
The mine in question is located in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, near the Lytein river in Ksan village. Reportedly, the miners started work on the illegal mine on December 11, and got trapped on December 13 when water from the Lytein river gushed in and flooded the mine. It's believed that the miners accidentally breached an old, flooded mine, leading to the disaster.
Initial efforts to pump out water proved to be ineffective
Subsequently, after two weeks of ineffective efforts to pump out water from the flooded mine, the Indian Air Force, on Friday, transported heavy-duty pumps from Coal India to help with the operation. A team of 20 personnel from the Odisha Fire Services also joined in on the operation, and subsequently, a team of 18 divers from the Indian Navy were flown in from Visakhapatnam.
What have rescue efforts yielded so far?
Notably, over the two weeks that have passed since rescue attempts began, authorities have had very little success in locating the miners and ascertaining their status. The only things that have been found, so far, are three helmets believed to belong to the miners. Earlier in the week, NDRF divers had found a foul smell emanating from the pit, and many fear the worst.
Rescue forces are stepping up attempts now
However, rescue forces have not given up hope yet. Earlier, divers could not enter the mine as the water level was too high for them to attempt a rescue. Armed with heavy-duty pumps now, rescue forces are stepping up their attempts, and a team of Navy divers and NDRF personnel entered the mine shaft at around 4pm on Sunday afternoon.
One can only wait and hope for the miners' return
However, rescue attempts will be far from easy. The main mine pit itself is 350ft deep, and the rat holes are at the bottom of the mine shaft. To reach the rat holes, divers will have to brave many dangers, including jagged edges that could damage their diving suits and oxygen apparatus. Now, the only this left to do is wait and hope.
Similar tragic incidents have taken place before
As unfortunate as it is, this isn't the first incident of this nature. In 2012, at least 15 people got trapped inside a similar 'rat hole' mine in the South Garo Hills, and their bodies were never found. Subsequently, in 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned such mines owing to their unscientific nature, and risks involved. Evidently, the ban wasn't strictly enforced.