SHILLONG — Navy divers Saturday located the body of another miner trapped since 13 December inside the 370-foot-deep coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.
“The Indian Navy has informed us that another body was found at 3am and is located at about 280 feet away from the bottom of the main shaft,” District Deputy Commissioner FM Dopth told PTI.
He said the body is decomposed and efforts are on to retrieve it to the top of the mine, using the Navy’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV), with the help of the National Disaster Response Force.
The first body, of Amir Hussain from Assam’s Chirang district, spotted in the mine was handed over to the family members Saturday morning.
In a joint operation, the Navy and the NDRF pulled Hussain’s body out of the mine’s shaft on Thursday, after it was first spotted on January 17.
On December 13, water from the nearby Lytein River flooded a network of tunnels in the illegal rat-hole coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping 15 men and prompting a multiple-agency rescue attempt.
Nearly 200 rescue personnel from the NDRF, the Indian Navy, Odisha Fire Service and state agencies are involved in the search-and-rescue operation.
Efforts to de-water the nearby abandoned mines with the help of high-powered pumps of Coal India Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and Odisha Fire Service are still continuing, the officials said.
Anxious family members of the trapped miners are camping in the district headquarters and visiting the site frequently for any news of their loved ones, they said.
The owner of the mine, Krip Chullet, was arrested from his home on December 14. His accomplices are on the run.
The Meghalaya government has released Rs 1 lakh interim relief for the families of the trapped miners.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is monitoring the rescue mission and the matter is scheduled to come up for hearing again on Monday.