Teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Odisha firefighters have started dewatering the coal mine in their effort to rescue 15 coal miners who are still trapped in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, IANS reported. The fate of those trapped for the last 20 days is not known yet.
The process of dewatering of coal mine had started nine days after authorities suspended the pumping out of the water last Saturday after two 25 horsepower pumps pressed into service became ineffective. “The Odisha firemen have pumped out water from an abandoned coal mine located about 500 metres of the main shaft, where the 15 miners are trapped,” Rescue Operations Spokesperson, R Susngi, was quoted as saying by the agency.
He added that Odisha firefighters will continue with the process of dewatering the mine in order to determine the water level in the main shaft. Indian Navy divers last Monday found a wooden structure, coal lying beneath and a rathole with coal in the mouth in flooded mine.
Susngi further expressed confidence that rescuers would be able to drain out more water after high-capacity submersible pumps, the machine which can pump out 500 gallons of water per minute, reach the site. The high-capacity pumps of Kirloskar Brothers Limited is also expected to reach the site today, he added.
The December 13 accident in the coal mine was very significant, considering the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s order on the interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014.
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State Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had earlier promised “appropriate action at appropriate time” against the people who are involved in the illegal mining. “This is not acceptable to us,” he had said.