More than two months after 15 people were trapped inside a 370-foot-deep rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, the Indian Navy on Wednesday recovered one more highly decomposed body of a miner, according to reports. Earlier several other decomposed bodies were spotted inside the mine but could not be recovered due to unfavourable conditions. The water inside the mines has high Sulphur content because of which bodies are likely to be decomposed faster.
This time the Navy team used a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to retrieve the body but was, however, disintegrated during the process. The rescue operation which started back in December 2018, has completed its 75th day on Wednesday and is the longest in the country so far.
On December 13, at least 15 miners were trapped deep inside the illegal coal pit, owned by a person identified by authorities as Krip Chulet, at Ksan near Lytein River in East Jainita Hills. The accident took place after water from the nearby Lytein River flooded the mine in Lumthari village.
The district official said Navy teams were trying their best to retrieve the body parts of miners detected by ROV about 170-200 feet from the bottom.
Three companies - Coal India Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and KSB - continued with de-watering the mines and their total water discharge to ease the process of search and rescue operation. Apart from the Indian Navy, the Army, the NDRF and the state's agencies are engaged in the operations that begun hours after the accident took place on December 13, 2018.
As far as the funds are concerned, the state Deputy Commissioner had granted more than Rs 30 lakh at the start of the rescue operation. On January 3, the Centre had taken a decision to place an additional Rs 20 lakh with the DC to meet the requirements. Besides, the state government has announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief for families of all the trapped miners.
Coal mine accidents have been rampant in the mountainous state due to unscientific "rat hole mining" even after a National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an interim ban in April 2014.