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Meghalaya: Body of one of 5 trapped coal miners retrieved

A team of the Indian Navy rescuers prepare to descent the 500 feet deep illegal coal mine, as they join the NDRF, SRDRF and fire services personnel to rescue 5 miners trapped since May 30 evening, in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, Sunday, June 13, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The body of one of at least five miners trapped in a rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya since May 30 has been retrieved, officials said.

East Jaintia Hills district’s Deputy Commissioner Ethelbert Kharmalki said the body detected by a submersible robotic device was retrieved on June 16 afternoon and sent for an autopsy to ascertain the identity.

“The operation to detect and retrieve the other bodies will resume on Thursday,” he told The Hindu.

District officials said the chances of survival of the other miners were very slim as the electronic devices could detect only two objects deep inside the water-filled pit, one of them turning out to be the body retrieved on Wednesday.

The State Disaster Response Force and the local police were initially engaged after a dynamite blast in the coal mine at Krem Ule in East Jaintia Hills district trapped the miners a fortnight ago. A team from the National Disaster Response Force and the Indian Navy joined the rescue operation. “We hope to retrieve a second body tomorrow (June 17) if the conditions allow us to,” Mr. Kharmalki said.

The body was retrieved with the help of a remotely operated vehicle used by the Navy.

Four of the trapped miners were from Assam and one from Tripura. Six other labourers who escaped the mishap had been escorted to their homes in Assam on the condition that they would have to report whenever called in connection with the illegal mining activity.

The National Green Tribunal had in April 2014 banned rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya. But miners have invariably flouted the restrictions and carried out mining and transportation of coal.

A local court in East Jaintia Hills district had over the past few days granted bail to two prime accused in the mining tragedy — Rightful Chyrmang, the owner of the mine, and Shining Langstang.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 6:12:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/meghalaya-body-of-one-of-5-trapped-coal-miners-retrieved/article34831234.ece

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