The Centre and the Meghalaya government told the Supreme Court that operations to rescue the miners trapped in a rat-hole mine in the East Jaintia Hills district of the state will not be abandoned. At least 15 miners are trapped inside the mine since 13 December, 2018 after one of them accidentally punctured the wall of the mine, leading to its flooding.
The assurance on the part of the administrations came a day after the Indian Navy had decided to suspend efforts to pull out the decomposed body of a miner that it spotted on 16 January. The body had allegedly been spotted at a depth of 160 feet, inside the mine's main shaft, posing a serious challenge to extraction efforts.
"The navy (on Sunday) suspended the pulling of the remains, which they had been trying since yesterday (Saturday) evening, as too much disintegration (of the body) took place with every pull by the ROV jaw," operation spokesperson R Susngi had said. An ROV is a remotely operated underwater vehicle.
Senior lawyer Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner Aditya N Prasad, told the Supreme Court on Monday that the operation to find the trapped miners had been "abandoned" and that personnel of the National Disaster Response Force and other rescuers had been waiting at the site to get the apex court's green signal to "call off" the operation.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then told the Supreme Court that the operation had not been abandoned, reported The Hindu. He added that the body found was unrecognisable due to decay and that it would be "extremely difficult" to lift it out without "disintegrating" the body parts which had been destroyed due to the high sulphur content in the mine, reported News18. Mehta added that it is also not possible to send a camera into the mine.
The Supreme Court, that is monitoring the rescue operation, said it would hear the matter again on Monday, now a commitment has come from both governments (the Centre and Meghalaya).
The families of four of the 15 miners had on Saturday urged the rescuers to retrieve the decomposed body so that they could perform the last rites.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jan 21, 2019 13:30:49 IST