The Indian Air Force has flown in 20 pumps to reach the 15 diggers trapped inside a 370-feet rat-hole mine in Meghalaya. The rescuers from the Air Force and the Coal India will now travel 200 km to the exact spot to save the miners trapped for a fortnight. Superintendent of Police Sylvester Mongtynger said two teams from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd also arrived on Thursday to help in rescuing the miners trapped in the 370-foot-deep illegal mine. "We are deeply concerned about the trapped miners in Meghalaya and are ready to help in whichever way possible. We are in touch with the officials of the Government of Meghalaya to offer our assistance in this regard," Kirloskar Brothers Ltd said in a statement late Wednesday night.
Sources in Coal India Ltd said Thursday officers and surveyers are on their way to the site. A senior government official said they will assess the situation including the road condition leading to the mine in a remote area in the district and accordingly report to their office, which will then take a call on what equipment are required to launch a rescue operation.
The search-and-rescue operation was suspended on Saturday after water pumped out of the mine did not lead to a drop in the water level. On Thursday, 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."
The NDRF explained the foul smell could be of the stagnant water. "The fact is that the pumping process has been halted for more than 48 hours. The foul smell detected by the divers may be due to stagnant water. The same has been misinterpreted and newspapers quoted it saying the odour could indicate the miners are dead and bodies are beginning to decompose," the statement issued by Commandant of Guwahati-based NDRF Battalion S K Shastri said.
He said two teams of NDRF are engaged in the search and rescue operation. Meanwhile, a Congress lawmaker claimed that there is a strong chance that the miners might not be alive. "I’m very sure most people have died. I came to know from local people that there is no chance of people there, those who survive, they run away since the mining was illegal. Earlier the Central government did not take seriously in sending the pumps. I hope with the new pumps coming they will be able to pump water. It will take minimum 2-3 days then we will be able to retrieve the bodies," Pala said.