Bhubaneswar: A team of the Odisha Fire Services department Friday left for Meghalaya to assist in the search and rescue of the 15 labourers trapped in a flooded rat-hole coal mine in the northeastern state, officials said.
The miners are trapped in a 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in the Ksan area of Lumthari village in Meghalaya since December 13.
Director General of Fire Services B K Sharma said a 20-member team led by chief fire officer Sukanta Sethi left for Shillong in a special Indian Air Force aircraft with equipment, including high-power pumps.
“Get, set and go,” Sharma tweeted as the selected members of the Odisha Fire Services team boarded the IAF plane.
“They will assist local authorities in the rescue of the trapped coal miners,” he said.
Stating that the team was carrying at least 20 high-power pumps, an official said each pump is capable of flushing out 1,600 litre water per minute.
“Odisha is among the few states endowed with the experience of handling such calamities,” the official said.
The fire services personnel are also armed with several other high-tech equipment and gadgets for use during the rescue mission.
The team will first study and analyse the situation at the site before working out plans for the search and rescue mission, the official said.
Noting that carrying out rescue operation in a coal mine will be a unique experience for Odisha Fire Services personnel, he said, “Our men are well-trained and capable of handling any situation.”
They have successfully carried out difficult rescue operations within and outside the state, including Kerala in the past, with the help of well-trained and experienced personnel, said the official.
A team of 240 Odisha fire services personnel had assisted in rescue operation of flood-ravaged Kerala in August this year.
Earlier, in 2014, they had taken part in relief and rescue operations in Andhra Pradesh during cyclone Hudhud.