SHILLONG, Jan 17 - A decomposed body was detected by an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) of the Indian Navy in the rat-hole mine at Ksan village in the East Jaintia Hills on Wednesday.
The breakthrough discovery was made after a month-long operation. The body, located by the ROV about 160 feet under water, was found when the operation was about to end in the evening yesterday.
“One body was detected by Indian Navy divers using underwater ROV at a depth of approximately 160 feet inside a rat-hole mine,” an Indian Navy spokesperson said.
The Navy official added that the “body has been pulled up to the mouth of the rat-hole mine and will be extracted out of the mine under the supervision of doctors”.
Immediately after the body was found, the Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills Fredrick Dopth called five family members of the mine disaster victims from Lumthari, East Jaintia Hills and Chirang district (of Assam) to watch the video clips provided by the ROV.
“The body has signs of decomposition and efforts to retrieve it, as per expert opinion, will lead to its total disintegration. The body has been pulled up to 100 feet from its original position and many body parts have started to disengage,” East Jaintia Hills Public Relations Officer R Susngi said.
He added that the views of the relatives have been sought. “Relatives present today will furnish their views by tomorrow,” Susngi said. Possibly, the authorities are asking whether the relatives of the victims still wish to drag out the body, which can lead to total disintegration, or let it rest in its place.
This situation has arisen as the water level in the shaft has not reduced despite several lakh litres of water being pumped out, due to continuous seepage. Also, divers cannot go in and collect the body.
Hydrological and geological experts, meanwhile, are continuing their efforts to find out the source of water seepage. ROVs have been deployed and a sonar mapping of the shaft has been done, leading to the detection of a rat hole.
Other survey works are going on to examine the main shaft and what lies underneath. Some local residents have provided inputs, but a clear picture has not emerged for the benefit of the rescuers.