Meghalaya mine rescue: First body found after weeks

India

17 Jan 2019

Meghalaya: Rescue forces spot one miner's body after 33 days

More than a month after 15 miners got trapped inside an illegal rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya, one of them has been found dead.

The body has now been brought to the mouth of the mine from where it will be fished out in the presence of doctors.

Meanwhile, there's no word on the other miners yet.

Here are the details.

Details

Water levels remain unchanged, thereby making further searches difficult

Water levels remain unchanged, thereby making further searches difficult

The body, discovered at a depth of 160ft underwater, was spotted by one of the Indian Navy's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

While the search to find the other miners is still on, water levels inside the 370ft deep remain unchanged, despite efforts by rescue forces to pump out water using heavy-duty pumps.

The remaining miners, too, are feared dead.

Backstory

The miners got trapped on 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.

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Efforts

Multiple agencies were roped in after weeks of ineffective efforts

Multiple agencies were roped in after weeks of ineffective efforts

Subsequently, after two weeks of ineffective efforts to pump out water from the flooded mine, the Indian Air Force, on December 28, 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.

More delays

Efforts were further marred by the mine's water level

Yet, efforts by Indian Navy divers to locate the miners also proved to be ineffective, as the water level in the mine remained too high, and underwater visibility was extremely poor.

Despite multiple efforts by the divers to locate the miners, they remained unsuccessful for a long time.

Given the pace of rescue efforts, an incensed Supreme Court had demanded that the miners be taken out, "dead or alive".

Blame?

Government apathy is to blame for the miners' fate

Government apathy is to blame for the miners' fate

It should be noted here that the miners might have had a chance if the Meghalaya state government had not been apathetic in its initial response.

From the very first day, rescue operations were marred by poor coordination between agencies, lack of requisite equipment, and days of delay owing to bureaucracy.

If the remaining miners survive, it'd be nothing short of a miracle.

Earlier

History repeats itself

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.

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Coal Mine

Indian Navy

Meghalaya

Mining

NDRF

Rescue Operation

East Jaintia Hills

Ksan village

Lytein river

ROV

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Ask NewsBytes
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Most asked questions

What are rat hole coal mines?

Is rat hole mining illegal?

Which rescue agencies are involved in the search operations?

Why did it take so much time to find the miners?

More questions

What are rat hole coal mines?

Asked 2019-01-17 10:58:11 by Amit Shah

Answered by NewsBytes

Rat hole mining is a process wherein narrow tunnels are dug into the ground, like those dug by rats, to help miners reach coal reserves. The term 'rat hole' emerged during the colonial era.

Is rat hole mining illegal?

Asked 2019-01-17 10:58:11 by Tejas Rangan

Answered by NewsBytes

No. Rat hole mining was banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014.

Which rescue agencies are involved in the search operations?

Asked 2019-01-17 10:58:11 by Ishan Mittal

Answered by NewsBytes

The Indian Navy, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and Odisha Fire Services are involved in the rescue efforts and are being aided by teams from Coal India and pump-makers Kirloskar Brothers.

Why did it take so much time to find the miners?

Asked 2019-01-17 10:58:11 by Ridhi Verma

Answered by NewsBytes

Rescue attempts were initially marred by the lack of equipment. Efforts were further stalled by bureaucracy, and full fledged rescue attempt began only at the fag end of 2018.

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