Bengaluru: One of the treasure hunters who survived, unlike his accomplices, a gold dust gathering adventure in Karnataka's Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) mine has tested positive for COVID-19, an official said on Monday.
"Richard tested positive for COVID-19. He has been moved into a designated hospital," told KGF Superintendent of Police Mohammed Sujitha to IANS.
For his alleged attempt to steal gold dust from the deep defunct mines, Richard has also been arrested under IPC Section 304 and also for theft.
"We have arrested him but when we arrested, we have followed all due procedure," said Sujitha about the physical distancing and COVID-19 care taken in the modalities.
On Wednesday evening at around 7.30 pm, Kanda (55), Joseph (45), and Richard went in search of gold dust in mines.
According to police, gold dust hunting has been happening stealthily for a while as the seekers aim to salvage gold flakes by sieving out the dust to sell the flakes.
"Kanda and Joseph went down into a pit with the help of a rope as Richard waited above. Both of them did not return, prompting Richard to go back home and inform Kanda's family," a police officer said.
Kanda's son Santosh (20), then went in search of his father and got down the pit where the trio had hoped they could find gold flakes mixed in dust.
"While Kanda and Joseph went inside the pit and died, Santosh went into a deeper place and died," said the officer.
After three days, a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team has been roped in to retrieve Santosh's body from that deep pit as the other two bodies were found earlier.
"They had tried all day on Sunday. They had evacuated (blow out) all the gases from there and tried using a pulley. Because of space constraints and they have also estimated that there could be other gases, NDRF team could not retrieve," she said.
Though the team had spotted the corpse, Sujitha said they could not retrieve it as the pit is very deep, about 90-100 feet.
"His body is stuck up between multiple pipes. There is no direct path. We have tried to take out all the gases, lot of efforts went in that. We have to push in atmospheric pressure. We have done that technique yesterday. We have also used pulleys," explained Sujitha about the hardships they had undergone without success.
According to the SP, the rescuers are not certain if there is no oxygen or if there are any other noxious gases where the body is stuck.
"We are not too sure, actually it is lack of oxygen or the presence of other gases. We really don't know what is there inside," she observed.
The NDRF team has already left even as local efforts will continue to fish out the body, attempting to deploy other technologies.
Meanwhile, Sujitha is awaiting a detailed report from the NDRF.