Twenty high-capacity pumps to flush out water from the mine were also being taken to the spot.
Guwahati/New Delhi: A group of Indian Navy divers were flown from Vishakhapatnam to join operations to rescue 15 miners trapped in a flooded rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13, officials said on Friday. Twenty high-capacity pumps to flush out water from the mine were also being taken to the spot.
Authorities and the miners’ families are hoping for a miracle that the victims would be alive despite their 15-day-long ordeal.
Sources said that two teams from Pune-based company Kirloskar Brothers, which helped with technical expertise when a dozen soccer players and their coach were rescued from Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand in July, are also at the site.
Sources said three naval personnel have already reached Ksan area in Meghalaya and the fresh team of divers will join the ongoing rescue operations on Saturday morning.
The miners are trapped in a 370-feet-deep illegal coal mine, flooded with water, in Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya. They have been missing after the mine they were digging collapsed in the coal-rich East Jaintia Hills, an area where illegal mining is rife and a National Green Tribunal ban on such activities has been in place for four years.
Earlier, a heavy transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force carrying seven high-power pumps landed at Assam’s Guwahati airport, from where the high-pressure pumps were taken by road to the rat-hole mines.
The plane took off with the heavy tools from Bhubaneswar in Odisha earlier on Friday morning, after low-capacity pumps used by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) failed to pump out water from the mine.
The state government has been under attack for the tardy rescue operation while family members claimed that miners would be safe in wind pockets inside.
NDRF officials said that water from an adjacent abandoned mine was flooding the rat-hole mine, making it unsafe for their divers to operate.
On Thursday, NDRF divers engaged in rescue operation since day one, detected a foul smell emanating from the pit, giving rise to fears that it could be from that of decomposing bodies.
Director general of fire services B.K. Sharma in a statement said that a 20-member team led by chief fire officer Sukanta Sethi left for Shillong in a special IAF with equipment, including high-power pumps.
“They will assist local authorities in the rescue of the trapped coal miners,” he said.
The team is carrying at least 20 high-power pumps, apart from other high-tech equipment and gadgets. Each pump is capable of flushing out 1,600-litre water per minute. The team will first study the situation at the site before working out plans for the search and rescue mission, the official said.
Coal India Limited is also sending high-capacity pumps to the accident site.