The operations to rescue 15 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in Meghalayas East Jaintia Hills district for the past 24 days got a shot in the arm Saturday when two high powered pumps started dewatering the main shaft. The pumps were operational 10 days after the Kirloskar Brothers Ltd offered to help and assist the state government in the rescue operations, officials said. But, since the pumps functioned only for one hour, the Navy divers did not go down to gauge the water level inside the shaft so that they could resume the search for the diggers.
At about 3:30 pm on Saturday, a team from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd was able to start their pumps in the main shaft (where the miners are trapped)," operation spokesperson R Susngi said. He, however, said that since the pumps were operational for only one hour, the Navy divers did not go down to determine the water level inside the main shaft.
The rescuers stop work at 5 pm daily with descend of the night darkness. The pump has to run at least 10 to 12 hours of continuous pumping before the water level will be determined, Susngi said.
He said that on Sunday, the unmanned remotely operated vehicle will be sent down to check at the bottom of the shaft again. Meanwhile, a high-power submersible pump from Coal India and two other pumps from Odisha are engaged in dewatering the nearby abandoned mines, which might be interlinked and as much help in lowering of water in the main shaft, he said.
Rescue divers from the Indian Navy and the NDRF are yet to be able to make any significant impact in their search and rescue operations as the water level is still beyond 100 feet, the safe diving capacity for the divers, the official said. The water level at the main shaft where the miners are trapped is about 160 feet, he said, adding that total depth of the main shaft is about 370 feet.