Consult scientists, administration told

The last word on the fate of 15 people reportedly trapped in a rat-hole mine in South Garo hills district of Meghalaya may not have been said, with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) saying that the possibility of a complete collapse of some sub-channels could not be ruled out.

The NDRF suggested to the district administration to take the advice of scientists and geologists. It said its team of deep divers, water rescue specialists and all responders made their best efforts to find bodies by even going down 300 to 400 feet inside despite threats of their life but no body was found.

“Mining, at such a place, which is alongside an all-season heavy stream, is nothing but inviting threats to life. The NDRF teams found the situation even more challenging for demand of basic safety structure and system. Mine walls have become loose due to incessant waterfall and no concrete or wood shoring was done inside the mine. It can be presumed that the heavy gushing water from the alongside stream filled all the channel and sub-channels making the mine more slushy,” an NDRF release said quoting the officer in-charge of the operation.

“There were other threats like presence of methane gas, electricity flowing inside the mine and pitch dark condition, which made the mine more unpredictable,” he was quoted as saying in the release. The search and rescue operation by the NDRF was called off on Friday.