Efforts to retrieve second miner's body see setback

India

29 Jan 2019

Meghalaya: After losing second body, rescuers struggling to retrace it

It has been three days since rescue forces detected the body of a second miner inside the flooded rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya where 15 miners got trapped in early December.

Now, officials have said that the body had slipped from their view shortly after discovery, and that they are struggling to retrace it.

Here are the details.

First body

The first body had been discovered after a month's search

The first body had been discovered after a month's search

After over a month of rescue efforts, the body of one miner was spotted by Indian Navy divers on January 16.

Finally, after a week of trying to fish the body out of the flooded mine, the body was recovered on January 24.

It was then identified as belonging to 30-year-old Amir Hussain from Assam's Chirang district.

He is survived by his mother, wife, and three young children.

Second body

The second body was spotted on Republic Day

Then, at around 3am on January 26, one of the underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) used by the Indian Navy spotted a second body.

At around noon on Republic Day, attempts were made to fish out the body from the flooded mine shaft, but it slipped from the ROV's grasp.

The ROV, too, got stuck on something, further complicating body retrieval efforts.

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Difficulties

Why retracing the second body has become so difficult

Why retracing the second body has become so difficult

It's believed that the ROV got stuck on a wooden cart inside the flooded mine, and after two days of efforts, the vehicle was retrieved on January 28.

However, since the second body slipped from the ROV's grasp, it has not been traced, and efforts are on to trace it.

That said, multiple obstacles inside the flooded mine, and low visibility underwater are making operations difficult.

Army

On January 28, the Army joined in on rescue operations

In a parallel development on January 28, the Indian Army, too joined in on the rescue operations, 46 days after the miners went missing.

Having set up 15 tents near the mine, the Army has promised to assist the Navy for "efficient, smooth, round the clock ops".

Meanwhile, the state government has assured the Supreme Court that all efforts are being undertaken to retrieve the miners' remains.

Backstory

Backstory: The miners got trapped on December 13

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.

Blame?

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.

Given the time that has passed, it's almost certain that no one will survive.

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Most asked questions

What are rat hole coal mines?

Is rat hole mining legal?

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 2019-01-29 20:41:30 by Abhinav Mukopadhyay

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 legal?

Asked 2019-01-29 20:41:30 by Ananya Rathore

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 2019-01-29 20:41:30 by Ajay Lobo

Answered by NewsBytes

The Indian Army, 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 2019-01-29 20:41:30 by Divya Jaiteley

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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