Air Force joins rescue operation to save miners trapped in Meghalya

Rescuers work at the site of a coal mine that collapsed in Ksan in the northeastern state of Meghalaya | Reuters

Rescuers work at the site of a coal mine that collapsed in Ksan in the northeastern state of Meghalaya | Reuters

Today Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, tweeted calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and get high pressure pumps to help with the rescue bid.

Two teams of a private pump manufacturing company, which has volunteered to provide equipment to drain out water from the rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya where 15 diggers have been trapped for almost a fortnight, arrived at the site on December 27.

Heavy rain on December 20 caused the river to overflow again and reflood the mine, creating a bleak outlook for the rescue effort given the miners have had no food or water for two weeks. The high-power pumps are arriving three weeks after the mine collapsed on December 13.

Pump manufacturing company Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and Coal India on Friday are jointly moving 18 high-powered pumps to a remote coal mine here where 15 diggers have been trapped since its flooding a fortnight ago, officials said.

The river is also still pouring into the shaft making it unsafe to send down divers, according to Shastri, who added that the collapse of the tunnel walls could have caused leaks into other mines. A team from Coal India will visit the spot Friday to "see the ground reality". The group had also dispatched heavy equipment and helped with technical expertise when a dozen soccer players and their coach was stranded inside a cave in Thailand.

The mine is an old, illegal so-called rat-hole mine that are common in Meghalaya as they are dug by villagers but are very risky as the coal is pulled out from narrow, horizontal seams. "We are in touch with the officials of the Government of Meghalaya to offer our assistance in this regard", Kirloskar Brothers Ltd said in a statement late Wednesday night.

The NDRF explained the foul smell could be of the stagnant water. "You can not say this smell is from decomposed dead bodies", Singh clarified. While he declines to comment further, NDRF personnel discuss that the "foul odour" could indicate that the miners are dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose.

'A very big operation is underway to rescue the trapped miners.

"We have stopped the two pumps that were put inside the coal pit to pump out water as they were ineffective".

He said: 'The water level hasn't gone down an inch - it increased after it rained.

Lack of adequate equipment is compounding the rescue efforts.

While the water level on the second day of the accident was reported to be 70 feet, it stands between 75-80 feet now.

Pala had goofed up in Lok Sabha on Thursday when he when said the miners were trapped in Mizoram mine instead of Meghalaya while moving an adjournment notice on the issue.

The incident has also sparked a political war.

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