- 15 men are trapped inside the 320-feet coal mine for the last 16 days
- High pressure pumps flown by Air Force are expected to reach by evening
- 15-member Navy team are on their way to the mine
Here are the top 10 updates on the Meghalaya mine rescue operation
A heavy-lift transport plane of the Air Force carrying ten high-power pumps landed at the Guwahati airport last night. The pumps have reached the district headquarters in East Jaintia Hills. The authorities are working out the logistics of how the equipment can be taken to the mine given its remote location.
A 15-member diving team of the Navy has flown in from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and are on their way to the mine.
Water from a nearby river and an another abandoned mine had flooded the mine after the collapse. Low-capacity pumps used by the NDRF turned out to be ineffective in pumping out water from the collapsed mine.
A team of heavy pump-maker Kirloskar Brothers Ltd was at the mine on a survey mission on Friday.
"Coal India experts are here to survey what can be done next. Our divers will descend into the well once the pumps arrive and the water is brought down to a manageable level," said NDRF Assistant Commandant SK Singh, who is leading the central rescue force.
The NDRF officer said the rescue team found the water level too high for diving even on the first day. "The state government tried using low-capacity pumps to suck out the water, but to no avail. A request for high-powered pumps was sent to the centre on December 18," he added.
The request was allegedly processed by the state government only after a week. And even now, 16 days later, life-saving equipment is many crucial hours away.
The mine is located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees. To reach the mine, a person has to pass the 30-foot wide Lytein river three times. No habitation was found nearby and 80-90 illegal coal mines dot the area.
The mine is owned by Krip Schullet, a local who has been arrested since the incident came to the administration's knowledge, state officials said. Locals were quoted by news agency PTI as saying that the illegal private mine was closed for a long time and opened for mining two to three days before the miners were trapped on December 13.
The challenging rescue at the illegal mine took a political turn earlier this week with Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention. He accused PM Modi of posing for photographs while the miners remained trapped in precarious conditions. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Thursday.
(With inputs from PTI)