Meghalaya mine tragedy: Rescue ops a big challenge, says Chief Fire Officer

Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha fire services team is still a part of the ongoing efforts to rescue 15 miners trapped for more than 25 days and feared dead at a flooded rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills, Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Sukant Sethi, on his return to Bhubaneswar, said that the rescue operation continues to be a big challenge for the team members.

As per reports, Sethi, who had gone along with a 21-member team of rescuers to assist in search operation, said that the efforts of the team were unsuccessful as the water level was above 200 ft.

“The team has remained unsuccessful in dewatering the rat-hole due to various reasons. The temperature is at zero degrees and there is no facility of communication as the mine site is at hill top. The mine is 376 ft deep and water within is at 200 ft high, it was quite tough to go inside the mines and conduct operation” said Sethi.

“Our priority was to dewater the mines following which the naval team would have entered the mines to undertake the rescue operation. However, it was not feasible.

Earlier, on December 28, 2018 the fire services team from Odisha had gone to Meghalaya to undertake rescue operation in the said mines. The team had taken several high-tech equipment including high-power pumps to use in search and rescue operations.

It is pertinent to mention here that, 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 December 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.