Rescue workers are racing against time to reach the 15 men trapped inside a flooded 320-feet coal mine in Meghalaya for the last 16 days. Navy divers and trucks loaded with high-power pumps are making their way to the mine in a remote region in the state’s East Jaintia Hills district. Rescue operations were suspended on Monday, after the low-powered pumps being used to suck out water failed to help. Divers at the site have been able to recover only three helmets until now.
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 trucks need to cover a distance of 220 km to reach the mine in the in the remote Lumthari village. The pumps are being taken by road from Guwahati till about two kilometres from the accident site.
- 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.