New Delhi: Thirty-two days after the Meghalaya mining tragedy, the body of one of the 15 mine workers trapped inside a coal mine in the state’s East Jaintia Hills district was found by a team of Navy personnel on Thursday, Navy officials said.

The body was brought to the mouth of the rat-hole mine, they said adding the rescue operations were going on.

The officials said the body was spotted inside the rate-hole mine and naval divers brought it to its mouth.

“The depth is 160 feet (and not 60 feet) and the body has been pulled up to the mouth of Rat-hole mine and shall be extracted out of the mine under the supervision of doctors,” the spokesperson of the Indian Navy tweeted.

Naval divers are seeing skeletons inside mines of Meghalaya through their remotely operated vehicles, news agency ANI reported. Water inside the mines has high sulphur content which can decompose bodies very fast. By evening, forensics experts would reach the spot and suggest the future course of action.

Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district on Thursday called families of the miners to identify the bodies. Three families were called from Lumthari, while two from Assam’s Chirang district. 

At least 15 miners are trapped in the 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya since December 13.

On January 15, MyNation reported that a citizens’ report prepared by a group of 22 activists revealed that the Meghalaya government was complicit in helping the miners extract and transport coal. This is in blatant violation of both the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and Supreme Court orders.

Also read: Congress rule abetted illegal mining in Meghalaya, reveals report

Within hours of the MyNation report on illegal coal mining in Meghalaya and the Supreme Court’s directive to ban the transportation of all coal in the region till February 19, the state government on Tuesday issued an order to ban all coal transportation.

Also read - MyNation Impact: Hours after mining scam is exposed, Meghalaya govt bans transportation of coal in state

With inputs from Hemanta Nath