Navy recovers body from Meghalaya mine where 15 men are trapped since Dec 13

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Navy’s underwater remote operated vehicle has spotted a body in a Meghalaya mine where 15 workers were trapped by sudden flooding over a month ago.

A joint rescue operation involving local workers, NDRF and Indian Navy among others, with some equipment flown in from outside the state, has been on at the illegal rat-hole mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, which was flooded on December 13 trapping the miners.

“Yes, the Navy operated ROV has found a dead body. They will operate it again today,” said SS Syiemlieh, additional deputy commissioner, East Jaintia Hills. The Navy also confirmed the development on Twitter.

Confirming the detection of a body, the Indian Navy tweeted, “The depth is 160 feet (and not 60 feet) and the body has been pulled upto the mouth of rat-hole mine and shall be extracted out of the mine under the supervision of doctors.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an NDRF official involved in the operation said that the body was spotted at around 6.30 pm on Wednesday. The official said retrieval of the body remains a big challenge.

This official said the agencies including the NDRF and the Navy were desperately looking for information on the ratholes, at the bottom of the flooded main pit.

“We requested district administration to get Sayeb Ali, the survivor who managed to get out on December 13 with at least three others just in time,” the official said.

Ali, who was easily approachable in Chirang in Assam, meanwhile, remained out of reach for the Meghalaya administration who complained they have not been able to trace him or other survivors.

This NDRF official, meanwhile, got in touch with Ali and three others survivors and some other workers who had worked in the mine earlier.

“It was through their inputs that this body was spotted 210 feet deep in the rat hole,” said the official. “It would not have been possible without these inputs,” the official said adding that they are now hopeful of detecting others as the ROV would now search the rat hole further beyond the 210 feet where the first body has been spotted.

The rescuers had been trying to pump out the water from the mines, for which high-powered pumps were flown in from Odisha, but did not meet with much success. The Navy then pressed into service the underwater remote operated vehicle to spot the miners.

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