First body pulled out of Meghalaya mine, 42 days after 15 workers got stuck

Meghalaya: Rescuers on Thursday pulled out a body from a 370 deep feet flooded coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district where 14 miners still remain trapped since December 13.

The body was pulled out in a joint operation by the NDRF and Indian Navy.

As per reports, it took six men – 2 from the NDRF, 3 navy men and one civil hospital staffer – to pull out the body from the flooded mine. The rescuers went into the shaft in two teams with an inflatable boat, a body bag and other NDRF equipment.

The body, which was disintegrating, had been spotted last week, but on Wednesday disintegrated and slipped to the bottom of the main shaft while the Navy was trying to bring it out.

Today, the body was recovered from a depth of about 100 feet within the flooded mine, brought up to the water surface, and then pulled out by a crane.

Officials say the Navy personnel are trying their best to locate the remains with their unmanned Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) in the flooded mine in East Jaintia Hills.

The 15 miners had disappeared inside the mine on December 13 last year, which led to a multi-agency operation involving the Navy, the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF and leading firms in the country to join the efforts to rescue them in the longest such mission in the country.

The Navy had also spotted several skeletons in the flooded mines.

According to five miners who had a narrow escape, one of the workers could have accidentally punctured the walls of possibly another nearby abandoned and flooded mine.

The Meghalaya government informed the Supreme Court on Monday that the operations at the rat-hole coal mine to look for survivors will continue. It also indicated that the workers trapped in the mine for more than a month may have died.

Coal mine accidents have been rampant in the mountainous state due to unscientific “rat hole mining” even after a National Green Tribunal imposed an interim ban in April 2014.