SHILLONG: Meghalaya Home Minister James K Sangma Wednesday said the multi-agency operation to search for the remaining 13 miners trapped inside a 370-foot-deep coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district will continue, as per directions of the Supreme Court.
The apex court, which is monitoring the search operation on a weekly basis, has asked the state government to continue with it.
"The rescue efforts for the trapped miners will continue, as per the direction of the Supreme Court. All efforts will be put in place to ensure that the operation continues," Sangma told PTI.
He said the Meghalaya government is yet to get details of the expenses incurred on the ongoing exercise, which has mostly involved dewatering of mines. The multi-agency search and rescue operation had got a shot in its arm with the Army joining in the efforts Tuesday.
An Army team has set up tents near the incident site to allow uninterrupted operations by the Indian Navy, East Jaintia Hills District Deputy Commissioner F M Dopth said. Nearly 200 rescue personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Navy, Odisha Fire Service and state agencies are involved in the search and rescue efforts.
Although two decomposed bodies of the miners have been found over 200 feet away from the bottom of the main shaft, only one of them could be pulled out and was handed over to family members in Assam.
Efforts are underway to retrieve the remains of the second miner, but the operation is taking longer as there are many obstacles like narrow tunnels and the turbidity of water, Dopth said.
On December 13, water from the nearby Lytein River flooded a network of tunnels in the illegal rat-hole coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills, trapping the 15 men and prompting the multiple-agency rescue attempt.
The owner of the mine, Krip Chullet, was arrested from his home on December 14. His accomplices are on the run.