The operation to rescue 15 people, trapped in a 320-foot-deep coal mine at Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills, entered its eighteenth day today. Nearly 200 rescuers from various agencies were stationed at the site. The Odisha Fire Service team had brought 10 high-powered pumps with them to pump the water out. A team leader from the Indian Navy and NDRF personnel went inside a 370-foot-deep mine to ascertain the water level inside on Sunday afternoon, officials said. A senior NDRF official said that the divers came out of the mine as the depth of water was too much, news agency ANI reported. "They dived till around 70 feet down but still have not been able to reach the ground level," SK Singh, Asst Commandant NDRF, told ANI. A Navy team will dive into the mine again tomorrow with "sophisticated equipment", he added.
The miners have been trapped in the mine in the Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it.
Here are the Highlights on Meghalaya rescue operation:
The miners started working inside the illegal mine on December 11. Two days later, water from Lytein river and an abandoned mine gushed in and flooded the coal mine trapping the 15 miners. The mine was filled with water till 70 feet.
December 14, 2018:
Rescue operation begins. Over 100 personnel were pressed into action since to rescue the miners from the 320-feet deep mine.
Krip Chulet, one of the accused involved in illegal mining, was arrested.
December 15, 2018:
Rescue operation called off for a day. Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma called the rescue operation a "difficult task".
December 16-18, 2018:
The Meghalaya government on Monday sought the Union Home Ministry's help to rescue the miners.
Rescue operations resume but incessant rainfall made the road leading to the mine inaccessible. Police said the miners were feared dead.
The Meghalaya Human Rights Commission initiated an action against the state government and issued a notice for an enquiry into the incident.
December 19-21, 2018:
No miner rescued by Day 8 of the operation. Chances of survival appear very slim.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said that it will take 200 pumps to flush all the water out.
December 22, 2018:
The Meghalaya government announced an interim relief of Rs. 1 lakh each to the families of the 15 miners.
December 24-25, 2018:
The rescue operations were temporarily suspended. The exercise will resume once more powerful pumps are made available to district authorities, said district Deputy Commissioner.
Officials say the operation will need going deep into 70-feet water. Divers of the NDRF can only go up to 40 feet deep so, without the pumps to drain out water, it will be impossible to resume the rescue effort.
December 26, 2018:
The Meghalaya miners' rescue took a political turn with Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention.
"15 miners have been struggling for air in a flooded coal mine for two weeks. Meanwhile, PM struts about on Bogibeel Bridge posing for cameras. His government refuses to organise high pressure pumps for the rescue. PM please save the miners," Mr Gandhi tweeted referring to PM Modi launching India's longest railroad bridge in neighbouring Assam.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju retorted that it was the previous Congress government in the state that facilitated illegal mining.
December 27, 2018:
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said the state is in the process of acquiring these high-power pumps for the rescue operations.
"The situation right now is very difficult. Almost the entire river came into the mine. 12 lakh litres of water have been pumped out but the water level is rising," Mr Sangma told NDTV.
Experts say at least 10 pumps of 100 horsepower each will be required for the task.
The Meghalaya government said the divers at the site reported they detected foul smell in the cave, raising concerns it could be from decomposed bodies. NDRF officials at the site, however, said they are not certain whether the foul smell is of decomposed bodies as it could be from stagnant water, which has not been pumped out for three days.
December 28, 2018:
The NDRF divers wait for the water level in the mine to fall from 70 feet to 40 feet, the level at which their divers can operate. A group of Indian Navy divers were being flown in from Visakhapatnam to join the operation.
- A survivor from the accident said on Saturday that y there is no way the trapped miners will come out alive.
- Sahib Ali, hailing from Assam's Chirang district, is one of the five men who narrowly escaped the flooding coal mine a fortnight ago.
- He said four others who made it alive had fled to their homes in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.
- The owner of the coal mine, Jrin alias Krip Chulet, was arrested from Narwan village soon after the accident was reported .
- Police said that they're searching for more people, including the manager of the illegal coal mine.
- The biggest challenge for the authorities is the unavailability of the mine map or blue print of the mine that was being operated illegally.
- "We don't have the mining map. This is going to be very tough challenge for all of us," J Borah, a senior officer of state-run Coal India Limited, said.
- The navy had recently sent a survey team comprising an officer and two divers to assess the nature of the rescue operation.
- A team from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd - a heavy equipment company that has agreed to assist in the rescue efforts - also dropped by to take stock of the situation.
- Firefighters from Odisha equipped with high-tech equipment also reached the site on Saturday to assist in the rescue operation.
- The operation to rescue 15 people, trapped in a 320-foot-deep coal mine at Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills, has entered its seventeenth day.
- Now equipped with ten high-powered pumps that are required to pump out the water from the flooded mine, the authorities are preparing for the final push of the rescue operation.
- A team of divers from the navy airlifted from Vishakhapatnam will be pressed into action today to locate the miners.