Guwahati: Tragedy hit hard at least 15 miners who were reported to have been trapped inside an illegal rat-hole mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills over the past one month and now the last ray of hope to find them alive is also lost as rescue teams spotted a decomposing body at a depth of 160 feet.
The unfortunate tragedy occurred on December 13, 2018, when water from a river nearby gushed through a puncture in the mine wall apparently have killed the miners.
The families of the trapped miners now at least want their bodies recovered — even if it’s just a finger, a hand or a leg.
Speaking to Indian Express, Manik Ali, brother of trapped worker Monirul Islam of Assam’s Chirang district, told: “I have told the rescue officers that they should try to retrieve the body. It may necessarily not be of my brother but still, I feel they should retrieve it.”
The rescue teams have still not decided whether to retrieve the decomposing body spotted at 160 depth of waters.
R Susngi, official spokesperson of the rescue operations has told the rescue officials have met the families representatives of five workers and explained them the chances and probability of the body breaking into pieces and disintegrating if attempts are made to retrieve it.
“They have told us that the body will completely disintegrate if extracted. But may be we will get one hand or one leg. Or may be a finger. And then may be doctors can do some tests and identity who was this person. Our family will always hope to get a body. But it seems the officials are concerned about the body breaking into pieces,” said Ali.
Three of the trapped miners are from Chirang district and Ali is at the mine as a representative for three families.
“I spoke to my father and the relatives of the other two men from our area and told them of the situation. Everyone says that even if there is hope for even one body part to be extracted, it should be done,” he said.
Mohammad Shahmat Ali, brother of another trapped worker Shahir Islam, said: “Who will not want the body if it is possible. We have told officials that attempts to retrieve this body should be made and further search for other bodies should continue. We do not know which worker’s body this is but attempts should be made.”
Updating on the incident, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on Thursday that it is quite not possible to retrieve the body because of two reasons – the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which detected the body cannot pull it out because of the body’s weight since it is too heavy for it to pull and secondly the rescue divers cannot go inside the mine because of the water level., adding the body was also decomposing.
“The body is soft. Every time they are trying to pull it’s coming off some pieces,” Sangma had said.
According to Susngi, search operation continued through Friday and water was still being flushed out by pumps operated by Odisha Fire Services and Coal India Limited.
Some families believe none are alive. Amzad Ali, a cousin of miners Omar Ali and Shirapat Ali from Magurmari village of West Garo Hills district said: “I don’t know if the bodies will be found at all. Officials have been saying that it is a very difficult location. Pumping has been going on over such a long time now but no result. Our family has accepted that the men won’t return alive. They are gone.”