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Meghalaya Rescue Operation: Navy, NDRF Personnel Enter Mine Shaft

A team leader from the Indian Navy and NDRF personnel went inside a 370-foot-deep mine, where 15 miners are trapped, to ascertain the water level inside on Sunday, 30 December afternoon, officials said.

The Navy divers and their equipment arrived at the site around 1:30 pm Sunday after which the Navy personnel started measuring the actual level of the water in the mine shaft.

The 10 pumps brought by the rescue team from Odisha have been kept on standby. Meanwhile, the divers have also been kept on standby, the officials said.

The Navy wanted to ascertain the water level as their divers can operate up to 100 feet in a closed container-type situation, a district official said.

According to ANI, JS Gill, who is the engineer-in-chief, Coal India Limited (Retd), said that now that the Navy divers have gone inside, they would wait to find out what is recovered by them. He added that if nothing is recovered, then they would pump out the water. He noted that the pumps have arrived but the generators haven’t; after the generators come, it would take 5 days to pump out the water, he said.

Nearly 200 rescuers from various agencies are stationed at the site. The Odisha Fire Service team had brought 10 high-powered pumps with them.

East Jaintia Hills district SP Sylvester Nongtynger said that at least two pumps will have to be lowered down to the water level inside the mine shaft to begin the operation.

Odisha Chief Fire Officer S Sethi said his team was tasked with pumping water out and they are ready for the job.

“Our only concern is that if we install the pumps now, the carbon exhaust may suffocate the entire mine shaft,” Sethi said.

The remaining eight pumps will be placed at various locations identified in the area, he said.

One high-powered submersible pumps with an output capacity of 500 gallons per minute is arriving Sunday from CIL Ranchi, CIL Kolkata GM A K Bharali said.

Bharali, who arrived four days ago, said that as soon as the generators and platforms are made available at the mine shaft, the pumping of water will begin.

Five more pumps from CIL Centres in Ranchi, Dhandbad and Asansol are on road and are expected to arrive anytime, he said.

A senior district official said a few pumps of Coal India Ltd have arrived in Guwahati and are expected to reach the site soon.

A team of 25 CIL personnel are at the site and survey teams are doing their job, Bharali said.

The miners have been trapped in the mine in the Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since 13 December, after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it.

The IAF helicopter transporting sophisticated diving equipment of the Navy landed at a football ground there. The machines are to be shortly transported to the accident site, 37 km from there, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sylvester Nongtynger told PTI.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is coordinating the rescue operations with the help of Navy, the NDMA and Coal India Ltd, he said.

“The Navy divers have reported that they have the capacity to go to a depth of 100 feet, whereas the NDRF divers can go to a depth of 30 feet,” he said.

A 14-member Navy team led by Lt Commander R Khetwal and a 21-member Odisha Fire Service contingent have been visiting the site since Saturday, Asst Commandant Santosh Kumar Singh said.

Singh briefed them about the conditions of the area and a gave them a sketch of the mine and the nearby shafts.

Meanwhile, a group of Indian Navy divers had arrived from Vishakhapatnam on Saturday to join operations underway to rescue 15 miners trapped in a flooded rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya since 13 December.

The 15-member team, equipped with specialised diving equipment, including a re-compression chamber and remotely operated vehicles capable of searching underwater, went straightway to the mine site in the remote Lumthari village in East Jaintia Hills district.

They were briefed in detail by the NDRF personnel supervising the entire rescue operations since their arrival on 14 December, a senior official of the East Jaintia Hills district said.

The rat-hole mine located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees had got flooded when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it on 13 December, trapping the 15 diggers.

Pumping of water from the mine was suspended on Saturday last, 22 December as there was no visible receding of the water level in it.

(With inputs from ANI added.)

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Updated: December 30, 2018 — 12:22 pm
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