Odisha Fire personnel join operations to rescue trapped miners in Meghalaya

Meghalaya: A 20-member team of Odisha Fire Services Department today joined Indian Navy and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescuers in evacuating 15 miners who are trapped inside a flooded coal pit for over two weeks now in Meghalaya.

“The mine is filled with water and NDRF rescuers have started the process to dewater the area through submersible pumps. But as a river is flowing nearby, the area is again getting filled up with water,” said chief fire officer, Sukant Sethi.

Sethi further informed that steps are being taken to ascertain the waterlevel in other nearby mines to draw up subsequent strategy.

Requisitioned by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Odisha firefighters equipped with several high-tech equipment, including 10 high-power pumps reached the tragedy site after travelling 220 km from Guwahati airport.

Earlier today, NDRF’s Assistant Commandant, Santosh Kumar Singh briefed Lieutenant Commander Khetwal, the team leader of the Indian Navy Divers and Sukant Sethi, Chief Fire Officer of Odisha Fire Services on the rescue operation conducted so far by NDRF and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) rescuers in the past 17 days.

The biggest challenge for the rescuers to evacuate the trapped miners to the higher grounds from the day one of the rescue operations was the non-availability of the “mining map or blue print” with the district authorities.

“We we don’t have the mining map. This is going to be very tough challenge for all of us,” General Manager of CIL’s Northeastern Coalfields J. Borah said.

“Six of the eight submersible pumps of 100 horsepower each are on the way to the site from Nagpur, Bilsapaur, Dhanbad and Ranchi. We are also planning to airlift the pumping machines to Guwahati airport,” Borah said.

Surveyors and mining technical experts of Coal India Limited (CIL) began surveying the tragedy site before dewatering lakh gallons of water from the 370-feet coal pit.

A project manager of Kirloskar Brothers Limited said that the India’s leading pump manufacturing company has already dispatched 10 high-capacity pumping machines to the site.

The CIL is also planning to airlift its high capacity submersible pumps of 100 horsepower each that can pump out 500 gallons of water per minute from various locations to Guwahati airport and thereby transporting by road to Ksan village in East Jaintia Hills district.

(With inputs from IANS)