Bhubaneshwar: An Odisha Fire Services team has left for Meghalaya in a special aircraft to assist local authorities in the rescue of the 15 trapped coal miners.
An Indian Air Force C-130J transport aircraft has also taken off from Bhubaneswar carrying NDRF personnel and equipment to help in the rescue efforts, news agency ANI said quoting a source.
Over two weeks after a rat-hole mine collapsed in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills, trapping 15 people underground, the Indian Air Force has finally come forward to help.
The Air force is airlifting men and equipment including high power pumps of National Disaster Management Authority to Guwahati this morning. Kirloskar Brothers -- an Indian heavy equipment firm -- has offered to expedite the rescue operation by sending powerful pumps to draw water from the pit.
A team of experts from the state-run Coal India Limited is being rushed to the spot to oversee the exercise.
On Thursday, divers detected a foul smell emanating from the pit, giving rise to fears that it could be from that of decomposing bodies below, but the NDRF said that the odour could be from the stagnant water in the mine pit.
Mining was banned across mineral-rich Meghalaya in 2014 after environmentalists raised concerns of groundwater pollution. However, that did not deter local residents from illegally extracting coal on the sly through rat-hole mines, which involves digging into the side of hills and then burrowing horizontal tunnels to reach coal seams.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik tweeted earlier to say Odisha stood in solidarity with the families of the trapped coal miners in Meghalaya. "A 20 member team of specially trained Odisha Fire Services personnel is joining the rescue operations. Wishing them the best as #Odisha prays for the safety of the miners," Patnaik posted.