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Meghalaya mine collapse: SC to hear urgent plea tomorrow on trapped miners

A multi-agency operation has been launched to find the miners. However, even after 20 days, only three helmets have been recovered from the mine.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
January 2, 2019 12:28:40 pm
meghalaya mine collapse, mine collapse, meghalaya ndrf, mine wall, miners trapped, rescue operation, rescue operation hindered, indian express Navy personnel conduct a rescue task at the site of a coal mine collapse at Ksan, in Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya (PTI)

The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to hear a petition seeking urgent steps to rescue 15 miners trapped inside a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya. A two-judge bench comprising of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul will hear the matter Thursday.

The plea was filed by a lawyer seeking adequate manpower and equipment to rescue the miners. The PIL filed by Aditya N Prasad also sought a direction to the Centre and other authorities concerned to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for rescue operations in mining.

The miners were trapped in the ‘rat-hole’ mine on December 13, after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it. A multi-agency operation has been launched to find the miners. However, even after 20 days, only three helmets have been recovered from the mine.

A team of Indian Navy divers and NDRF personnel are currently engaged in the rescue operation. The team dived till around 70 feet but were still not able to reach the ground level. The operations were also hindered after the high-powered pumps encountered technical snags on Tuesday, officials said.

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Also on the site are heavy equipment from pump manufacturing companies — Coal India Private Limited and Kirloskar Brothers Ltd. While Coal India has dispatched 8 high powered pumps to the site, Kirloskar Brothers which had provided technical expertise during Thai cave rescue mission sent 10 pumps to Meghalaya. The NDRF divers, as per their training and guidelines, only attempt rescue operations when the water level is less than 40 feet. Currently, the water in the mine is about 150-feet deep, which requires high-power pumps.

The operations were halted last week after the two 25-HP pumps used by the officials proved ineffective. The NDRF who are engaged in the rescue efforts since day-1 reported a “foul odour” near the mine, suggesting that the miners are dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose.

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First published on: 02-01-2019 at 12:28:40 pm

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