Two days after the divers of Indian Navy pulled out the body a miner inside the rat-hole mine located in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia hills, another body was detected at the depth of 280 ft inside the flooded mine on Saturday. More than 40 days after 15 miners were trapped in a 370-feet deep flooded illegal ‘rat hole’ coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, the Indian Navy on Thursday had managed to pull out a decomposed body. The body was sent for a post-mortem. The body was spotted last week but on Wednesday as it slipped to the bottom of the main shaft. Bodies of 14 miners still remain trapped inside the mine.
The Navy used an underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV) to pull the body to the water surface, a senior rescue official said. Navy personnel are trying hard to locate the remains in the flooded mine in East Jaintia Hills district.
Coal mine accidents have been rampant in the mountainous state due to unscientific "rat hole mining" even after a National Green Tribunal imposed an interim ban in April 2014.
The miners had disappeared inside the mine on December 13 last year. 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. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma was briefed on the development at the site and he is constantly monitoring the situation, a senior home official said. The district authorities are waiting for the family members of at least seven miners trapped inside to identify the retrieved body
In December last year, the search-and-rescue operation was suspended after water pumped out of the mine did not lead to a drop in the water level. Later, the National Disaster Response Force contradicted media reports which quoted it as saying that the trapped minors were suspected to be dead on the basis of the "foul odour" the force's divers had smelt when they had gone inside the mine. The NDRF battalion based in Guwahati, which is carrying out the rescue operation, said the statement of its Assistant Commandant Santosh Kumar Singh on "foul smell" had been "misinterpreted and he was misquoted as saying that foul odour could indicate that the miners were dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose."