Meghalaya miners: Want a decent burial, say families as bodies pulled out of mine ‘fall apart’

The families of the trapped miners inside an illegal 370-ft flooded coal mine in Meghalaya on Thursday said they want the “dead bodies” of the miners to be taken out as per the Supreme Court order even as Navy divers captured pictures of a body inside the flooded mine.

The Indian Navy divers on Wednesday used an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) at a depth of about 160 feet in a rat-hole mine at Ksan village in East Jaintia Hills district, with pictures of a body which was pulled up to the mouth of the mine.

“The body will be extracted under the supervision of doctors,” said a Navy spokesperson in a tweet.

“The rescuers showed us video footages of a dead body stuck inside a coal mine in a computer (underwater ROV). We don’t know whose body it is. We want the government to follow the Supreme Court order to get the bodies out of that coal mine,” said Malik Ali, brother of Munirul Islam, who is among those trapped inside the mine.

“We want his body back so that we can give him a decent burial,” Ali told IANS over phone.

The body has been detected 32 days after the miners got trapped inside the mine on December 13 as water gushed in.

Five miners managed to escape and alerted the people about the tragedy at Ksan village, about 130 km from Shillong. Rescue efforts are on to salvage the remaining 14 miners.

Pressmeky Dkhar, the uncle of the two brothers, Dimonme and Melambok, said over phone: “We were told that a body was spotted inside the mine. They are trying to retrieve it. We want the body.”

With the body showing signs of decomposition, the district authorities sought the consent of the family members of the trapped miners to furnish their views by Friday on whether the body could be taken out from the mine.

“Deputy Commissioner F.M. Dopth invited the family members from Lumthari village and two from Assam’s Chirang district to view the video footages,” said Rescue spokesperson Reginald Susngi.

“As per expert opinion, the body could be retrived only after it is disintegrated. The body has been pulled up to 100 feet from 210 feet. Many body parts have already started falling apart,” Susngi stated.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri and S. Abdul Nazeer had expressed dissatisfaction with the rescue operation and ordered : “No matter whether they (trapped persons) are all dead, some alive, few dead or all alive, they should have been taken out by now. We pray to God that they all are alive.”

The Meghalaya government has roped in several central agencies including a team from Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute and Chennai-based Planys Technologies in the rescue operation.

Coal India Limited, Odisha firefighters, Kirloskar Brothers Limited are dewatering the abandoned coal mine shafts and the main shaft where the miners are trapped.

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