Families of Trapped Meghalaya Miners Live on Hope as Days of Search Yield No Result
But since the water level remains at 150 feet, the Navy has to wait till the water recedes to at least 30 feet to operate further.
The miners have been trapped in the illegal rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills district since December 13 after water from a nearby river flooded it. (Karishma Hasnat/News18.com)
It is New Year’s Day today and Alek is reminiscing about his childhood with his younger brother, 20-year-old Shalabas Dkhar, who is one of the 15 labourers trapped inside the flooded rat-hole coal mine at Saipung, East Jaintia Hills.
“Last year this day he was with me. He loved to listen to music and would sing too. Shalabas was adored by all in our basti. He was the one to take lead in organising every ceremony in our village,” says Alek.
Twenty days have passed since the accident took place. Alek is not happy with the way things are progressing at the rescue site.
“They are not able to pump out the water... How will any work progress if they don’t pull out the water first?” he remarks while smoking his third bidi.
Alek operated the crane on Monday to help lift one of the 63HP pumps into the mine, but the authorities still had obstacles.
“Anything for my brother. They asked for help and I can do it as many times.”
Day 19 of rescue operations showed a little hope. The navy divers went down into the mine for about three hours and successfully dropped the Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (UWROV) to the bottom of the pit. They found a rat hole with coal at its mouth. But since the water level remains at 150 feet, the Navy has to wait till the water recedes to at least 30 feet to operate further. Visibility inside the mine is another factor acting impediment to their movement. The Navy has also requested for halogen lamps to be fitted at the main shaft.
On Tuesday, the Odisha Fire Service with assistance from the National disaster Response Force (NDRF) were able to dewater from an old shaft of an abandoned mine that lies few yards below the main shaft. The remaining pumps would be used to dewater from the other adjacent mines present within a radius of one kilometre.
Locals say the water in the rat-hole mine is from the lateral mines in Saipung river valley that get filled up after a heavy spell of rain.
And as another day ends, Alek and his father Kletus Chyrmang, return home with no answer.
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