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Pumps to remove water from Meghalaya mine on Tuesday

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Navy divers find wooden structures at bottom of shaft

Personnel of multiple agencies engaged in the search and rescue operation for at least 13 miners trapped in a coal mine at Ksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, found a wooden structure, coal and mud near the bottom of the pit on Monday.

Six divers of the Indian Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had on Sunday detected a few rat-holes – narrow tunnels where miners have to crawl into to extract coal.

Ready for dewatering

R. Susngi, spokesperson for the district administration, said the site had been cleared for the Odisha Fire Service to start pumping out water from the main shaft measuring about 150 sq ft in area and about 350 ft deep. Other shafts were being prepared to keep at least three of the 10 high-power pumps brought from Odisha operating for longer durations, he said.

“The Navy divers entered the main shaft to survey the bottom using Under Water Remotely Operated Vehicle (UWROV). In three hours of their scan under water, they found some wooden structure, coal and mud other than a rat-hole with coal at its mouth. The visibility was poor, about one foot at the bottom,” Mr. Susngi said.

A member of the Navy team, which was flown in last week from Vishakhapatnam, said the search for the trapped miners would be feasible when the level of the water goes down.

The Navy requested the district authorities to assist in dewatering so that the level comes down to 30 metres or within a safe diving limit. The safety measures before commencing diving were being taken to rule out decompression sickness, officials said.

Two teams of the NDRF have been providing all logistics and human resources to the other agencies including the Navy, Coal India Limited, the State Disaster Response Force and a team of firefighters from Odisha .

200 personnel

About 200 personnel from these agencies are involved in the exercise.

Mining expert Jaswant Singh Gill, who is monitoring the rescue operation, said there are chances of survival of the miners despite the odds.

Officials are not sure of the exact number of miners trapped in the coal mine. Saheb Ali, one of the five survivors of the disaster, claimed there were 22 miners who had entered the mine on that fateful day.

Mr. Ali and the four others were closer to the entrance of the mine, positioned to relay the coal extracted by those below to the surface. They had escaped by climbing up ropes used by the miners, even as the shaft got flooded.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 1:37:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pumps-to-remove-water-from-meghalaya-mine-today/article25874353.ece

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