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Air Force joins rescue operation in Meghalya

The Indian Air Force C-130J transport airport has reached Bhubaneswar carrying NDRF personnel and equipment to help in the process to rescue the 15 diggers who have been trapped for nearly a fortnight.

The aircraft will land in Guwahati.

At least 15 miners have been trapped in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya for more than two weeks.

Odisha Fire Services personnel have also left for Shillong from Bhubaneswar on Friday morning to rescue the trapped miners in Meghalaya.

On Thursday, the National Disaster Response Force contradicted media reports which quoted it as saying that the trapped minors were suspected to be dead on the basis of the “foul odour” the force’s divers had smelt when they had gone inside the mine.

The NDRF battalion based in Guwahati, which is carrying out the rescue operation, said the statement of its Assistant Commandant Santosh Kumar Singh on “foul smell” had been “misinterpreted and he was misquoted as saying that foul odour could indicate that the miners were dead and the bodies are beginning to decompose.” The NDRF explained the foul smell could be of the stagnant water.

The National Green Tribunal has banned unsafe coal mining in Meghalaya since 2014 based on a petition by an NGO, which had alleged that a river in Assam had become acidic due to unregulated mining of coal. But illegal mining continue in the state, putting lives at risk, say locals.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted on the accident Thursday.

“Have been speaking to Sanjay Kirloskar, chief of @KBLPumps, about helping in the crisis in Meghalaya. He has rushed a team to assess the actual needs: what kind of pumps would best work in local conditions. meanwhile his pumps used for the #KeralaFloods cld be diverted if suitable (sic),” he said in a tweet.

In another tweet he said, “2 things are clear: (1) request has come unconscionably late. Govt seems to have been v.slow off the block. (2) We need better preparations & standby equipment for water-related disasters, whether floods or rains. The National Disaster Relief Force should have pumps at the ready”.

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