New Delhi -Indian rescuers desperately battled rising water levels and a lack of effective machinery Tuesday in a race against the clock to reach 15 miners trapped for almost two weeks in a flooded mineshaft.
Union minister Kiren Rijiju Wednesday asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi not to "do politics" over the "tragedy" of 15 labourers trapped in a Meghalaya coal mine, saying the Centre has been helping the state government in its rescue efforts.
Over 70 personnel from the NDRF have been deployed in the rescue operation and state officials are in the area to help, but the operation can not continue without more powerful equipment.
The exercise will resume once more powerful pumps are made available to district authorities, district Deputy Commissioner, FM Dopth, told PTI. They entered the horizontal manholes after reaching the bottom of the pit.
After the pit was flooded with water, five miners were able to come out of the hole.
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The NDRF has used a sonar system and an underwater camera to detect the trapped miners.
According to locals, one of the diggers could have accidentally punctured the walls of the cave following which the river water gushed into it on December 13.
Apparently, there is anticipation among the teams at the site for the arrival of the high power submersible pumps from Coal India Ltd or other sources, as has been suggested to the East Jaintia Hills district administration by mining expert, Jaswant Singh Gill, who had inspected the site last Thursday.
The state government had on December 22 announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief to the family members of each of the 15 miners. The Congress chief said that the BJP government in the state failed to organise high-pressure pumps for the rescue operation.
Dozens of emergency workers have since been racing against time to rescue the miners from a 106 metre (330-foot) shaft.
The mine is an old, illegal so-called rat-hole mine that are common in Meghalaya as they are dug by villagers but are very risky as the coal is pulled out from narrow, horizontal seams. Transportation of already extracted coal is intermittently allowed for exporting the mineral to Assam and Bangladesh.
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