New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday a plea seeking the deployment of adequate manpower and equipment for the rescue of miners trapped in a flooded mine in Meghalaya. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul agreed to hear the matter.

The petition by lawyer Aditya N. Prasad said the equipment to flush out the water being offered by Kirloskars and Tata Trust should be immediately airlifted to the site instead of sending it by road. (Also Read: No Way Trapped Meghalaya Miners Will be Alive, How Long Can They Hold Breath Underwater: Survivor)

The rat-hole mine, located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees in East Jaintia Hills district, had got flooded when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it, trapping the miners.

Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually three-four feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal. The horizontal tunnels are often termed “rat holes” as each just about fits one person.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had Thursday contradicted media reports which quoted it as saying the trapped minors were suspected to be dead on the basis of a foul odour that the force’s divers had encountered when they went inside the mine. It had said the foul smell could be due to the stagnant water in the mine as pumping had been halted for more than 48 hours.

A survivor of the accident said Saturday there was no way the trapped miners would come out alive.

Family members of at least seven trapped miners had already given up hope to rescue them alive and requested the government to retrieve the bodies for last rites.

On Tuesday, the multi-agency operation to rescue the miners was hindered after the high-powered pumps encountered technical snags.

Fifteen miners are trapped inside a 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district since December 13 after water from a nearby river gushed in, puncturing the mine wall.

(With agency inputs)