Shillong, March 1 (IANS) Amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan, the Indian Navy and Army on Friday temporarily withdrew from the search operation for 15 miners trapped inside a coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, a defence official said.
However, the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force and other agencies will continue the operation.
A 21-member Indian Navy team had been working since December 29 to evacuate the 15 labourers, who were trapped inside an illegal 370-feet flooded coal mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since December 13, 2018.
“The Indian Navy divers have been called back to their respective Naval bases in view of the current situation. They have temporarily withdrawn,” a senior defence official told IANS.
He added that the Indian Army team providing logistics support to the operation has also been temporarily withdrawn.
Of the 15 people trapped, the teams have retrieved two bodies so far, while three more bodies have been detected by the Navy’s Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle.
East Jaintia Hills district Deputy Commissioner F.M. Dopth thanked the teams for their efforts. “We wish them a safe journey home,” Dopth said.
The labourers got trapped when they broke the wall of another mine and water gushed inside. The tragedy came to light after five labourers escaped from the coal pit.
The disaster took place despite an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Mehgalaya by the National Green Tribunal since April 17, 2014.
The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the rescue operations, has ordered that the labourers must be taken out of the mine “dead” or “alive”.