Shillong: Having abandoned the rescue operations on Sunday, the Indian Navy did not pull out the decomposed body of a Meghalaya miner which was spotted four days back in the coal mine of East Jaintia Hills, said officials. The body was spotted on Wednesday with the help of an unmanned, remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) at a depth of around 160 feet inside the mine’s main shaft.

Operation spokesperson R Susngi said, “The Navy today suspended the pulling of the remains, which they had been trying since yesterday evening, as too much disintegration (of the body) took place with every pull by the ROV jaw.” Rescuers were asked to retrieve the bodies on Saturday by families of four deceased miners so as to perform the final rites. However, efforts to retrieve the bodies were suspended following failed attempts to de-water the main shaft where the miners were trapped. The mine was flooded and at least 15 miners were trapped inside the mine since December 13, 2018, after a miner accidentally drilled the wall of the mine.

Earlier in the week, the family members of the deceased miners from Garo Hills were called to the site to help identify the body from the video shot underwater by the ROV. A Chennai-based ROV operator conducted search operation in the nearby mines and Coal India ran their pumps for nearly 23 hours since Saturday evening to de-water the two nearby abandoned shafts, Susngi said.

Though the Coal India pumped out more than 52 lakh litres of water from the shafts in the last 46 hours, the water level did not come down. This majorly disrupted the rescue work, Susngi said. While the Kirloskar Brothers Limited, pumped out over 45 lakh litres of water, the Odisha Fire Services had pumped out approximately 4.5 lakh litres.

The apex court had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with the rescue efforts to trace the miners and rapped the Meghalaya government for not seeking the Army’s help.

(With PTI inputs)