Rescue operations underway at the illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya where 15 miners are trapped since December 13 last year Credit: File image

Shillong: After months of struggle and a wait of over a month, a third body was sighted on Saturday night by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) deployed inside the mine in Ksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia hills district where 15 miners have been trapped since December 13 last year.

While attempts are being made to retrieve the body, it could also be learnt that the time frame for it to be rescued cannot be determined as the water levels inside the flooded mine remain constant. The body is said to be excessively decomposed. Navy officials are of the opinion that in the present condition, any attempt to retrieve the body would only result in complete disintegration of body parts.

The first body was retrieved on January 17, more than a month after the accident. A week later, another body was located. However, rescue teams, led by Indian Navy, ‘lost’ the second body after it slipped out of the ROV. Heavy-duty pumps were installed to reduce the water levels to facilitate the retrieval of the corpses.

Dewatering the mine has been a major hurdle in the rescue operation since Day 1. While, initially, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials faced trouble in identifying the source of the water that was flooding the mine, several measures including pumping out water from the surrounding shafts were also considered.

The Odisha Fire Services personnel were one of the first agencies from outside the state to arrive at the mine, but their pumps were not high-powered. Chennai-based Planys Technologies, meanwhile, brought in small ROVs, but failed to be compatible with the situation on the ground.

The Indian Army, too, chipped in towards the rescue efforts by providing all required logistics as and when requested by the state government.

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