Indian Navy divers prepare to enter the ill-fated coal mine in East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya

Shillong: Two days after the mortal remains of a miner — among the 15 that have been trapped since December 13 last year — was located on Saturday, the Navy team detected the body of a fourth victim on Monday.

Just like the last one, the latest body was also found in a highly decomposed state, said officials.

The team of rescuers from Indian Navy has been using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to retrieve the third body, detected on Saturday. They, however, said retrieving the bodies might disintegrate them.

“The fourth body was found at 230 ft in the area where the third body was found. It is located about 20 ft away from the pulley cart used to transport the dug-out coal,” rescue operations spokesperson R Susngi said.

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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