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Families pray for Indian miners trapped underground for 13 days

Families pray for Indian miners trapped underground for 13 days

Earlier this week, the authorities in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district temporarily suspended rescue operations.

Heavy rain on December 20 caused the river to overflow again and reflood the mine, creating a bleak outlook for the rescue effort given the miners have had no food or water for two weeks.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted on the accident on December 27.

Superintendent of Police Sylvester Mongtynger said two teams from Kirloskar Brothers Ltd arrived on Thursday to help in rescuing the miners trapped in the 370-foot-deep illegal mine. The statement said Kirloskar officials were in touch with the state government to offer their assistance.

Meanwhile, sources said Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma discussed the incident with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.

After the pit was flooded with water, five miners were able to come out of the hole.

The CIL team, he said, will conduct all necessary exercises prior to the arrival of the pumps and it will take about eight hours to complete the fitting of each pump before it can be put into operation. "We haven't heard from the state government about our request", said SS Syiemlieh, additional deputy commissioner, East Jaintia Hills.

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The Indian Air Force airlifted a 21-member NDRF team and a team of Odisha Fire Services with 10 high-powered pumps from Bhubaneswar to Guwahati. "They have not submitted a report yet", SS Syiemlieh said.

The mine is an old, illegal so-called "rat-hole mine", common in Meghalaya but risky as the coal is pulled out from narrow, horizontal seams.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) on Thursday denied media reports that the "foul odour" its divers had detected indicated the miners could have died.

Although the rescue efforts to save the trapped men began immediately, low-capacity pumps used by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel turned out ineffective in extracting water from the collapsed flooded coal mine. After reaching the bottom, they entered manholes in the walls of the case, called rat-holes, since only one person can fit the mine pit. The NDRF divers, as per their training and guidelines, only attempt rescue operations when the water level is less than 40 feet.

There's now about 70 feet of water in the shaft, officials said.

What Is Rat-Hole Mining?

Mining was banned in the mineral-rich state by a federal court in 2014 after local communities said it was polluting water bodies.