Rescuers recover one body from flooded mine in Meghalaya

Rescuers recover one body from flooded mine in Meghalaya
Rescue operations being carried out in the flooded coal pit at Ksan village in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: Rescuers have recovered a body from the site of a "rat-hole" mining accident in Meghalaya, an official said on Thursday, more than 40 days after the operation to rescue 15 miners began.

The miners were trapped on December 13 when their illegal mine was flooded. The state banned unregulated mining in 2014 but it still goes on in some places.

"We have recovered the body and it is heavily decomposed," said Santosh Kumar Singh, an official from the National Disaster Response Force.

Thousands of workers, including children, have been killed in so-called rat-hole mines, which involve miners crawling into narrow shafts on bamboo ladders to dig for low-quality coal, in Meghalaya.

Rescue officials located the body last week, but it took time to bring it to the surface from inside a crevice. The officials sought guidance from forensic experts.

Families and relatives of the trapped miners have given up hope that any of them will be found alive.

Navy divers detected the body using an Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) at a depth of around 160 feet inside the main shaft on Wednesday last.

They resumed efforts to pull out the body on Tuesday on the advice of the district administration.

The remains of the miner slipped away from the jaw of the ROV while attempting to pull it out of the bottom of the main shaft of the coal mine last evening, operations spokesperson R Susngi told PTI.

According to five miners who had a narrow escape, one of the workers could have accidentally punctured the walls of possibly another nearby abandoned and flooded mine.

The state government has announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief for families of all the trapped miners and the Supreme Court is monitoring the case on a weekly basis. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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