Rescue operation to flush out the 14 labourers from the illegal mine in East Jaintia Hills Credit: EastMojo image

Shillong: Rescuers on Wednesday retrieved a second body from inside the illegal rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district where 15 miners had been trapped since December 13 last year.

“The highly decomposed unidentified body was pulled to the water surface by the Indian Navy’s underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV) around 1.20 pm,” a rescue official was quoted as saying by media reports.

On Tuesday, Indian Navy divers detected another body inside the 370-ft mine, taking the total number of bodies detected to five.

The divers had located the third body on Saturday and the fourth body on Monday.

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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