Meghalaya coal mine tragedy
Rescue operation in Meghalaya coal mine. File image.

Indian Navy divers on Tuesday located the fifth body from inside the 370-feet deep flooded coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, where over a dozen miners remain trapped since December 13, 2018, an official said.

“The fifth body was detected at 5.10 p.m. with the help of a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), at the 230 feet depth in the same rat-hole where the third and fourth miners’ bodies were located,” a senior rescue official said.

The divers located the third body on Saturday and the fourth body on Monday.

The rescue official said all the three bodies, still inside the mine, could “disintegrate” on retrieval attempt as they were highly decomposed.

“The flesh started tearing off when the ROV tried to get a grip on bodies,” he said.

The ROV had detected the first body on January 16, and second on January 26 from the coal mine.

Of the 15 trapped miners, the Navy could retrieve only one body on January 23. It was identified as that of Amir Hussain from Assam’s Chirang district.

The coal pit disaster at Ksan village took place on December 13, 2018 despite an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in the state by the National Green Tribunal since April 17, 2014.

The tragedy came to light after five miners escaped from the coal pit, flooded by water from a nearby river.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the rescue operations, has told the government the trapped miners must be taken out of the mine, “dead” or “alive”.

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