Meghalaya: Navy divers want water level reduced; miners remain trapped
On Monday, Indian Navy divers again entered the flooded rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya, where 15 miners are trapped, and have said that a search would only be feasible if the water level in the mine can be brought down to 30m. The diving team from the Navy first entered the mine on Sunday to search for the trapped miners. Here's more.
Backstory: 15 miners have been trapped since December 13
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.
Two weeks of rescue efforts culminated in virtually no progress
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.
After 17 days, divers entered the shaft on Sunday
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. Navy divers, on Sunday afternoon, then entered the mine 370ft deep mine shaft, and spent around three hours inside the mine, but could not find anything significant as visibility was very poor.
What happened on day 18 of rescue attempts
Subsequently, on Monday, Navy divers entered the mine shaft again, this time earned with a hi-tech gadget called Under Water Remotely Operated Vehicle (UWROV), and found visibility to be extremely poor - only one foot. Visibility apart, the water level in the mine is currently at 150ft - a depth that is beyond safe diving limits.
Water level in the mine is a massive hurdle
Given the conditions, the Navy have now said that the water level inside the mine should be brought down to 30m (98ft) before they can commence search and rescue operations. Earlier, heavy-duty pumps from Coal India were flown in by the Indian Air Force, and it is understood that these pumps will be used to de-water the mine now.
Rescue attempts should have been stepped up much earlier
While authorities are trying their best to rescue the miners now, it took over two weeks for heavy duty pumps to be flown in, despite the National Disaster Response (NDRF) requesting them much earlier. It has already been well over two weeks since the miners got trapped, and with each passing hour, their chances of survival diminish considerably.