Regional

Navy divers, fire-fighters reach M’laya mining site

Correspondent KSAN/SHILLONG, DEC 29 | Publish Date: 12/29/2018 10:42:26 AM IST

Rescue workers are racing against time to reach the 15 men trapped inside a flooded 320-feet coal mine in Meghalaya for the last 16 days.

Indian Navy divers and fire-fighters from Odisha fire services have reached Meghalaya’s Ksan village Saturday to assist the NDRF team.

District administration has temporarily suspended pumping of water from coal pit since December 24, 2018 with two 25 horsepower pumps became ineffective due to continuous operations. A NDRF rescue team dived inside the main shaft of the coal pit, but could not locate any of the miners. The rescuers found three helmets so far. These helmets purportedly belong to the coal miners trapped inside. No miner has been found yet. Surveyors and mining technical experts of Coal India Limited (CIL) began surveying the site before pumping out lakhs of gallons of water from the 370-feet coal pit.

A project manager of Kirloskar Brothers Limited said that the company has already dispatched 10 high-capacity pumping machines to the site. CIL is also planning to airlift its high capacity submersible pumps of 100 horsepower each that can pump out 500 gallons of water per minute from various locations.

Requisitioned by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Odisha fire-fighters equipped with several high-tech equipment including 10 high-power pumps reached the tragedy site.

PTI adds: A survivor of the December 13 accident said Saturday there is no way the trapped miners will come out alive. Sahib Ali, hailing from Assam’s Chirang district, said four others who made it alive had fled to their homes in West Garo Hills district.

“There were 22 of us who went in that day. I had worked for two weeks. Many are diggers who went to the farthest part of the mine. Some are cart pullers like me and we all work in synchronised manner in small holes that barely fit a big man,” Ali told PTI over phone Saturday.

Recounting the December 13 nightmare, Ali said, “all men started work early at about 5 am. By about 7 am, the entire mine was full of water.” “I was about 5 to 6 feet inside the mine pulling a cart full of coal. For some unknown reasons, I could feel a breeze inside the mine which was unusual. What followed was big sound of water gushing in. I barely made it to the opening of the pit,” Ali said. “There is no way the trapped men will be alive. How long can a person hold his breath underwater?,” he added.

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