Shillong: Meghalaya government on Monday assured the Supreme Court that the state and Centre are not abandoning the operation to rescue the miners trapped in a rat-hole mine in the East Jaintia Hills district. The Indian Navy and planes and helicopters of the Indian Air Force were deployed to rescue the trapped miners. Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta had earlier told the Supreme Court to ‘believe in miracles’.

The state government filed a status report on the rescue operation and mentioned the various problems encountered such as the difficult terrain and lack of proper infrastructure at the site.

Earlier on Sunday it was reported that efforts to retrieve the bodies were abandoned after the Indian Navy could not attempt to de-water the main shaft where the miners were trapped. However since the status report was filed later in the day (January 21), the rescue team have resumed their operations.

Meanwhile, on January 19, the families of four of the 15 trapped miners requested rescuers to retrieve the decomposed body so that the last rites could be performed. The decomposed body of the Meghalaya miner was spotted four days back with the help of an unmanned, remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) at a depth of around 160 feet inside the main shaft of the coal mine of East Jaintia Hill.

“We want the body,” said Manik Ali, whose 20-year-old brother Monirul Islam is among the 15 miners who were trapped in the rat-hole mine. “Even if they manage to get a finger or a bone out of the shaft, it is fine for us. We will at least be able to bury the dead with some respect,” added Ali.

The mine was flooded and at least 15 miners were trapped since December 13, 2018. The miners remained trapped in the illegal pit termed as ‘rat-holes’ after water from Lytein River gushed into the mine. Peter Ingty, the additional Chief Secretary and in charge of the rescue operations had earlier said, “It is only because of the Supreme Court order that we are hanging on. Submissions will be made before the court and let’s see what happens.”

(With Agency inputs)