Efforts to rescue the miners trapped in a Meghalaya mine for 23 days made little progress on Friday as most of the pumps brought in to draw the water out are yet to be installed, officials said.
Only three out of the 13 high-powered pumps that were brought to the site could be installed and used so far, operation spokesperson R Susngi told PTI.
Susngi said preparations to install another three pumps are on. "More pumps will be used in the adjacent shafts and we hope that the pumps from Coal India and Kirloskar Brothers are ready at the earliest so that they can also supplement the dewatering process."
Fifteen miners remain trapped inside a illegal 'rat-hole' coal mine in Lumthari village of East Jaintia Hills district since December 13 after water from a nearby river gushed in.
Coal India has set up a platform on the old shaft near the mine to install the submersible pump and the operation is expected by Friday. A team from Kirloskar is also preparing to lay the platform to keep their pumps on the main shaft and it will start functioning whenever the task is completed, Susngi said.
As the rescue operation entered the 23rd day, the efforts to pump out water from the main shaft, where the miners were stuck, and in the nearby abandoned mines have not made any visible impact.
Divers from the Navy and the National Disaster Response Force want the water level at the main shaft to go down from the current 160 feet to about 100 feet in order to resume rescue operation, an official of the diving operations team said.
Three pumps brought in by the Odisha Fire and Disaster Service personnel have been operational since Wednesday. The water level in the nearby mines has remained somewhat stable and the personnel will go down and measure in the evening, the official said.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court had expressed strong dissatisfaction over the rescue efforts to trace the miners and had asked the state government to bring them out dead or alive.
Meanwhile, the district authorities have sought an additional fund of Rs 50 lakh to make payments for the various utilities hired for the rescue effort.