It has been over a month since a mine in Meghalaya suddenly got flooded, trapping 15 miners inside.
Rescue operations were in full force for the past few weeks to retrieve the trapped miners. However, according to NDTV, any hope of finding them alive faded on Thursday when the Navy spotted a body.
The families of those that are trapped inside have given in to the fact that they will never see them alive. But still, they want their bodies recovered – even if it’s just a finger, a hand, or a leg.
The rescue officials are reluctant to retrieve the allegedly decomposing bodies. R Susngi, the spokesperson of the rescue operations told The Indian Express that it is probable that the bodies will break into pieces and disintegrate if attempts are made to retrieve them.
Manik Ali, brother of a trapped worker Monnirum Islam expressed his woes to The Indian Express, who recorded his dismal fleeting faith –
I have told the rescue officers that they should try to retrieve the body. It may necessarily not be of my brother but still, I feel they should retrieve it.
Although being aware of the dangers of continuing the retrieval operation, he further added –
They have told us that the body will completely disintegrate if extracted. But maybe we will get one hand or one leg. Or maybe a finger. And then maybe doctors can do some tests and identity who was this person. Our family will always hope to get a body.
Three of the trapped miners are from Chirang district and Ali is at the mine as a representative for the three families.
Meghalaya’s Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, told The Indian Express that the retrieval of the bodies faces two challenges. Firstly, the ROV cannot pull the bodies out because they are too heavy for the machine. Secondly, it is not possible for rescue divers to go inside the mine because of the rising water levels.
Some families have even accepted the fact that none of the miners remain alive. Amzad Ali, a relative of two miners told the Indian Express,
I don’t know if the bodies will be found at all. Officials have been saying that it is a very difficult location. Pumping has been going on over such a long time now but no result. Our family has accepted that the men won’t return alive. They are gone.
It’s sad that even after the month-long rescue operation, the families will get the bodies back, unrecognisable, and in bits and pieces. And it’s even sadder that it is those pieces that will make their ruptured selves whole again.