Navy’s ROV maps rat hole access at Meghalaya mine disaster site

Shillong: As part of the ongoing efforts to rescue the trapped miners from a flooded coal mine in Ksan near Lytein River in East Jaintia Hills, Indian Navy’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) probes, up to a distance of 100 feet, have been successfully undertaken inside the two identified rat holes which run horizontal to the vertical shaft, informed Eastern Naval Command on Tuesday.

The ROV operations are aimed at identifying and entering the rat holes in the incident shaft while simultaneously sanitizing the adjacent shafts.

“Since diving was not feasible, simultaneous ROV operations were undertaken in the adjacent shafts which are likely to be linked to the incident shaft through a network of rat holes. Two shafts have been sanitized thus far without any trace of miners. The probes by ROV in the incident shaft have been undertaken at night on several occasions and two rat holes out of a probable four have been identified,” read a press release shared by Eastern Naval Command.

It further added that considering the limited dimension of the incident shaft at the bottom and dewatering being a greater priority, ROV operations in the incident shaft have been curtailed and would commence when permitted by imperatives of dewatering. ROV ops in adjacent shafts would continue in the meanwhile.

A total of 5 naval ROVs have been augmented on site and simultaneous probes are being undertaken to maximize coverage.

The Indian Naval diving team from Visakhapatnam has been a part of the Meghalaya mines rescue operations since Dec 28. The team’s initial contribution involved depth measurement, marking of the shaft at various levels and UWROV (Under Water Remotely Operated Vehicle) probes for obstructions/ entanglements below the waterline.

The local authorities and NDRF have also been involved in the rescue effort.

15 miners have been trapped in a 370-feet deep illegal mine in Lumthari village since December 13 last year, when the water from the nearby Lytein River flooded the mine.

Since then, rescuers are struggling hard to pump out water from the inundated mine. So far, attempts by rescuers to reach them have yielded no result.