The Indian Navy on Sunday detected a skeleton, possibly of another missing miner, trapped deep inside the 370-feet-deep coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district, officials said.
At least 15 miners were trapped after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into the illegal rat-hole mine in Lumthari village in the Ksan area on December 13 last year.
Two decomposed bodies were spotted earlier and out of them only one body could be recovered, the officials said.
On Sunday the rescue operations, the longest in the country, continued for the 74th day.
The Army has also joined the rescue operations along with the Navy, the NDRF and other agencies.
"The underwater ROV of the Indian Navy on Sunday detected skeletons of the third miner deep inside the coal mine. Efforts are on to retrieve it," a senior district official told PTI.
He said the skeletal remains were detected over 150 feet away from the bottom of the 370-feet-deep vertical mine shaft where the miners have been trapped.
Operation spokesperson R Susngi said the "completely" decomposed body was detected and efforts are on to retrieve it.
The second body was detected last month and it had slipped away from the jaws of the ROV. That body is yet to be located.
Only one body could be retrieved till date, he said.
The process of dewatering the mine is also on with three different organisations such as the Coal India Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and KSB, discharging over 1 crore litres of water in a span of 24 hours, he said.
The Supreme Court is monitoring the operation closely and the matter will come up for hearing on Monday.
The state government has paid Rs 1 lakh interim relief to the family members of each of the victims.
Home Minister James K Sangma had said the operations to search for the miners will continue as per orders of the Supreme Court.
He also said the government is yet to get details of the expenses incurred in the operations which involved mostly dewatering of the mine.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine