More than a month after 15 labourers were trapped inside an illegal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, the Indian Navy on Thursday spotted a body at a depth of more than 200 feet. “One body detected by Indian Navy divers using underwater ROV at a depth of approx 60 feet and 210 feet inside a rat-hole mine,” the Indian Navy spokesperson tweeted.
“The depth is 160 feet (and not 60 feet) and the body has been pulled up to the mouth of rat-hole mine and shall be extracted out of the mine under the supervision of doctors,” it added.
A Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) is a tethered underwater mobile device operated by a crew either aboard a vessel or floating platform or on proximate land. They are submersible, robotic systems, used to observe the depths of large bodies of water by operators from shore or by divers in the water. The Navy team had deployed five ROVs for the operation.
While Deputy Commissioner EJH Federick Dopth was not reachable for comment, senior NDRF officers refused to say anything on the development.
The miners have been trapped inside the 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine since December 13 after water from a nearby river gushed in, puncturing the mine wall. Even as rescue efforts helmed by multiple agencies continued, the Supreme Court heard a PIL seeking urgent action and passed orders to the effect.
Five teams of experts, including those from National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee and a team from Chennai to operate remote-operated underwater vehicles, are present at the spot to assist in the rescue operation. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is being assisted by the Navy, Odisha Fire Services and Coal India Limited in the rescue work.
According to the district administration’s press update on Wednesday, the surveyors of Coal India Limited said there has been no significant change in the water level despite days of intensive pumping. This is expected to cause problems in extracting the bodies from the mine.