On Friday, the Navy dispatched an advance team to the site. “The advance team carried out an initial assessment. The main 15-member naval diving team from Visakhapatnam with specialised diving equipment, including a re-compression chamber and remotely operated vehicles capable of searching underwater, will be airlifted on board an AN-32 to Meghalaya on Saturday,” said an officer.
An IAF transport plane carrying seven high-powered pumps and heavy tools landed on Friday morning at Guwahati airport. Low-capacity pumps used by NDRF were unable to draw water from the collapsed mine, said officials. Water from an adjacent abandoned mine and a nearby river kept flooding the rat-hole mine.
Kirloskar Brothers and Coal India will also send help. KBL officials visited the site on Thursday, and those from CIL on Friday. The pumps arrived three weeks after the mine collapsed.
Congress legislators also visited the site on Friday, and alleged negligence by the Centre and state government. Earlier, AICC president Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at PM Modi, saying the latter was busy posing for cameras as the miners remained trapped.
Labourers, mainly from neighbouring Assam and also from Nepal, are engaged in illegal extraction of coal through unscientific mining, which is carried out without safety measures and poses a danger both to human life and the environment.