October 18, 2021

Second body retrieved from Meghalaya coal mine; 5 spotted so far

Rescue workers from NDRF and Indian Navy retrieved a second body on Wednesday from the main shaft of the flooded coal mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.

Santosh Kumar, National Disaster Relief Force’s assistant commandant overseeing the rescue operations, said it was a challenging task retrieving the body because of “various reasons” but expressed happiness that it was a successful mission.

“The body is intact but highly decomposed and beyond recognition. That’s why we immediately handed it over to the district administration for further procedures,” Kumar said over the phone from ground zero.

The body has been dispatched to Civil Hospital Khliehriat for a post mortem examination and other formalities, Kumar said. He added this was the fifth body to be spotted.

“The first one was retrieved but the second body slipped the claws of the underwater remotely operated vehicle (UROV). Then a third body was spotted last Sunday and another the following day but they could not be retrieved. The one retrieved today is the fifth body,” the NDRF official said.

Kumar said four NDRF personnel and a navy diver entered the main shaft 26 at about 1pm on Wednesday along with an inflatable boat, a body bag and other equipment and after a strenuous operation located the body at about 200 feet inside the rat hole mine with the help of the remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV).

“Despite the inclement weather all rescue teams are working continuously to try and retrieve another body as well as try to locate more,” Kumar said while lauding the “very good teamwork on the ground”.

At least 15 miners were trapped inside the mine since December 13 last year after one of them accidentally punctured the wall of the mine, leading to its flooding.

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