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Posted at: Jan 12, 2019, 6:54 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2019, 6:54 AM (IST)

Unmanned vehicles being used to rescue miners: Govt

New Delhi, January 11

The Navy has deployed five remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) to rescue 15 miners trapped inside an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya for a month, the state government told the top court on Friday.

Located on top of a hillock fully covered with trees in East Jaintia Hills district, the rat-hole mine got flooded on December 13 when water from the nearby Lytein River gushed into it, trapping the miners.

One crore litres of water had been pumped out from the illegal mine, but seepage from nearby rivers was creating hurdles in the rescue operation, the Meghalaya Government told a Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, which asked if any action had been taken against those indulging in illegal mining activities.

The state’s counsel said the person running the illegal mine where the incident took place had been arrested. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on January 18 after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said every possible step had been taken to rescue the trapped miners and the Indian Air Force has deployed planes and helicopters for airlifting requisite equipment and manpower.

The court is seized of a PIL filed by Aditya N Prasad seeking a direction to the Centre and other authorities to put in place a Standard Operating Procedure for rescue operations during such eventualities. 

Earlier, the Centre had informed the top court that all appropriate steps were being taken to rescue the miners. Mehta had told the apex court that 71 members of the National Disaster Response Force, 20 from the State Disaster Response Force, 16 Navy personnel and others, including those from Odisha fire service and Coal India Ltd, were working in the rescue operation. The Centre on January 4 told the SC that NDRF and Navy divers were finding it nearly impossible to rescue 15 miners trapped in a mine  since December 13 for want of a blueprint of the 355-ft-deep illegal mine. — TNS

‘Miracles do happen’

Carry on with your rescue efforts, what if all or at least some are still alive? Miracles do happen. — Justice AK Sikri

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