Army joins search and rescue operations in Meghalaya

Shillong: A platoon of Indian soldiers on Monday joined the search and rescue operations in Meghalaya where the fate of 13 miners remains unknown inside an illegal 370 feet deep coal mine in East Jaitia Hills district, an official said.

Indian Navy divers couldn’t retrieve the body of another miner, which was detected on Saturday by an underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV) inside a rat-hole coal mine at Ksan village as the UROV got “badly entangled” with the second wooden cart inside the mine.

“The soldiers will be providing logistics support to Navy divers, who are deployed in the search and rescue trapped miners for more than a month now,” a Defence Ministry official who wished not to be named told IANS.

He said the soldiers had already started setting up their camps near the tragedy site.

“The Navy divers on Monday couldn’t make headway in retrieving the body of another miner from inside the rat-hole mine as the UROV is non-functional after it got badly entangled with the second wooden cart inside the mine,” a senior rescue official told IANS.

“They are trying recover the UROV. They will lower another new UROV tomorrow (Tuesday) inside the mine to retrieve the other body,” he said.

A 15-member team of Navy divers from Visakhapatnam detected the second body with the help of the UROV inside the rat-hole coal mine but through a complex maize of sub rat-hole mines.

Of the 15 miners trapped inside the coal mine since December 13, only one body of miner from Chirang district was recovered and handed over to his family members on Saturday.

The accident inside the mine was of significance because the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on a “rat-hole” coal mining in the state from April 17, 2014.

The tragedy came to light after five miners escaped the coal pit.