GUWAHATI: The rescuers are unlikely to reach the 15 miners, trapped inside a 380-ft rat-hole coalmine in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, in the next four to five days.
Mining expert Jaswant Singh Gill, who has been roped in to share his expertise in the search and rescue operation, told this correspondent that it would take at least five days to drain out the water from the flooded coal mine.
“I had suggested that high-powered submersible pumps are used to drain out the water. These are not submersible pumps but ordinary pumps. They have to be set up on the platform inside the coal pit. It is a crude method,” he said.
According to him, the platform is likely to be built inside the pit on Monday and if that happens, the high-powered pumps will be used.
“Unless the water is drained out, we cannot reach the persons or the bodies. The water has to be drained out continuously with three to four high-powered pumps. I believe we can drain it out in five days’ time. As long as the water is there, the divers cannot reach every nook and corner of the coalmine,” Gill added.
Six divers from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Indian Navy went deep inside the pit on Sunday. However, there was no breakthrough. The NDRF lowered down a boat inside the pit which the divers utilized as a platform.
“The divers could go up to a place which was not far off from the pit’s surface. They said the place was favouarble for the Indian Navy to send down equipment that will help to take images of the surroundings. The Navy has to decide on whether or not to install the equipment,” NDRF assistant commandant Santosh Kumar Singh, who is supervising the operation being carried out by the NDRF, said.
He said multiple agencies such as the Kirloskar Brothers Ltd, Coal India, Odisha Fire and Emergency Services, State Disaster Response Force besides the NDRF were engaged in the search and rescue operation.
At least 20 miners had entered the coalmine on December 13. Of them, five managed to survive. The mishap occurred due to flooding inside the pit. Saheb Ali, who is among the survivors, claimed 22 miners, not 20, had entered the mine that day. He said the trapped miners should be dead by now.