The Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force on Thursday retrieved the body of one of the 15 miners trapped since December 13 inside a 370-foot deep coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.
They said that a search operation for the other missing miners continued using an underwater robotic vehicle.
15 diggers had got trapped inside the flooded mine on December 13. The incident had caught the nation's attention to illegal coal mining in the northeastern state of Meghalaya at the cost of human lives despite a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal.
The body of the miner was detected by an unmanned remotely controlled vehicle (ROV) on January 16 during a routine search mission inside the 370-foot deep shaft of the mine.
"The Indian Navy jointly in collaboration with the NDRF today retrieved the body of the dead miner from the main shaft in an operation between 9 am and 3 pm," operations spokesperson R Susngi said.
According to the district officials, an inquiry was conducted by a magistrate in the presence of Deputy Commissioner F M Dopth.
The district medical head Dr Mitul Sangma conducted a post-mortem and the body will be taken to the Khliehriat Community Health Centre, 36 km from the mine at Khlooryngksan, officials said.
The body will be kept in cold storage to allow the relatives to come and identify, Susngi said.
According to a statement issued by the NDRF, "After all the hardship and our dedicated efforts, a body was recovered from the main shaft."
NDRF personnel from Guwahati led by its Assistant Commandant Santosh Kumar Singh has been involved in the search and rescue operation in the coal mine since the day of tragedy.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy continued with their search operation using the unmanned ROV for the 14 other miners who are still trapped inside, Susngi said.
The other agencies involved in dewatering the nearby abandoned mines on Thursday pumped out over 64.74 lakh litres of water in the past 24 hours, according to the spokesperson.
Pumps from Coal India Ltd, KSB and Odhisa Fire Service have been put into service, he said.