Rescue operation is in progress to flush out the 14 labourers from the illegal mine in East Jaintia Hills

Shillong: Eight days after 14 miners were trapped inside an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district on December 13, teams engaged in the search and rescue operations have noted that the existing three water pumps with 25-horse power capacity have proved to be ineffective in flushing out water from the accident site.

Experts from Coal India Limited (CIL), who are currently assisting in the rescue operation, have now suggested the use of 100-hp water pumps. They submitted a report on the issue to the state administration on December 20, and the same was taken up by the East Jaintia Hills deputy commissioner with additional chief secretary of the state.

As per sources, these 100-hp water pumps are not readily available with the government, but organisations like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and CIL possess such high-capacity machines.

Around 100 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and civil defence personnel have been deployed on the site since December 13 to rescue the trapped miners, whose numbers are now said to have reached 14 as against 13 reported earlier.

SK Shastri, commandant, NDRF, told EastMojo, “He added, “The water level continues to remain at 70 ft which is emerging as a major obstacle in procuring the trapped miners. The shaft in the mine and all the surrounding shafts are also filled with water, and when the PH values of the water in these shafts and the Lytein River, which flows about 800 mt from the mining site, were tested, it was found that the source of the water is the same. This indicates that the river water has also entered the mine shaft.”

He added, “We have also requisitioned a surveyor to identify the exact point from which the river water is entering the mine. But, we are awaiting the government’s response on the same.”

Giving updates on the rescue efforts, East Jaintia Hills SP Sylvester Nongtnger, told EastMojo, “It has been raining heavily for the past two days, which has made the situation worse, and has hampered the search and rescue operations.”

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