Shillong | The Indian Army has joined the multi-agency operations to search for the remaining 13 miners trapped inside a 370-foot-deep coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, officials said on Tuesday.
“The Indian Navy had requested the Army to assist in rescue operations by providing administrative support and it has now set up camps at the site,” defence spokesperson Ratnakar Singh told PTI.
An Army team comprising about 20-25 members has been deployed to support the Navy, he said.
“This is only administrative support to the Navy in case need be, for efficient, smooth and round-the-clock operations,” Singh added.
Nearly 200 rescue personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Indian Navy, Odisha Fire Service and state agencies are involved in the search-and-rescue operation.
Although two decomposed bodies of the miners have been found over 200 feet away from the bottom of the main shaft, only one of them could be pulled out and was handed over to family members in Assam.
Efforts are underway to retrieve the remains of the second miner, but the operation is taking longer as there are many obstacles like the turbidity of water, the officials said.
On December 13, water from the nearby Lytein River flooded a network of tunnels in the illegal rat-hole coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping the 15 men and prompting the multiple-agency rescue attempt.
The owner of the mine, Krip Chullet, was arrested from his home on December 14. His accomplices are on the run.