Shillong: Mining engineer Jaswant Singh Gill, who had once rescued 64 people from a flooded quarry in West Bengal, will be shortly arriving to Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district to aid the search operation for labourers trapped in a rat-hole coal pit, a top official said.
Over a dozen miners were reportedly trapped on 13 December after water from nearby Lytein river gushed into the illegal coal pit. All efforts made by the district authorities to trace them have turned futile over the past seven days.
"We were informed by the state government that Gill will be arriving today. He is an expert in mine mishaps and was specially being flown in for the task," the district official said.
Gill was contacted at the behest of Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who also took up the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this week, he said.
A resident of Amritsar, Gill had received several awards for his act of bravery in 1989. He had volunteered and saved lives of 64 miners from a flooded mine in Raniganj area of West Bengal.
Meanwhile, S K Singh, a member of National Disaster Response Force, on Thursday expressed disappointment over the fact that the water level in the mine had risen considerable following Tuesday's incessant rain.
Over 100 personnel from the NDRF, the Meghalaya Disaster Response Force and the state police are currently camping at the site, waiting for its water level to recede to begin their operation.
"Despite putting into service two 25 Hp pumps, the water level in the mine has not subsided," Singh said.
One person, identified as Krip Chullet, has been arrested so far pertaining to the mine disaster. Chullet was allegedly involved in hiring labourers, overseeing the work and sending them down the shaft.
Disaster Management Minister Kyrmen Shylla said there were little chances for the miners to be rescued alive.
Admitting that rat-hole mines in Meghalaya are nothing less than "death traps", Shylla said a similar incident in 2012 had claimed lives of 14 miners in South Garo Hills.
"It has been a week since the miners were trapped in the pit. Only a miracle can save them," he added.
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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2018 18:59:49 IST