Meghalaya mine tragedy: Odisha extends helping hand for rescue ops

Bhubaneswar: A special team of fire fighters from Odisha took off today to assist in search and rescue of 13 workers who are trapped for 15 days and feared dead at a flooded rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills.

A 21-member team of rescuers led by Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Sukant Sethi took off from Bhubaneswar airport to Meghalaya on a special C130J Indian Air Force plane. The team has taken several high-tech equipment including high-power pumps to use them in search and rescue operations.

Rajesh Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Fire Service said the team will initially take stock of the situation at the site where the mishap took place and accordingly chalk out plans to undertake the search operations with different disaster management teams.

CFO Sukant Sethi said “This is the first time a fire service team from Odisha is undertaking rescue operation in mines. Reports say that the site is staying continuously flooded due to flow of water from a nearby river so it will be a challenging task.”

“We have the capacity to handle any situation and have successfully carried out difficult rescue and search operations in the past in and outside the State with the help of well trained officials, said a rescue official.

A coal mine in Ksan of Saipung area in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district collapsed and got flooded leaving at least 13 workers trapped on Decmber 14. The Meghalaya government along with NDRF and other agencies have been speeding up rescue operations with the help of a team of state-run Coal India Ltd.