Meghalaya: 13 trapped in ‘rat hole’ mine; rescue operation underway
13 people are trapped in an illegal ‘rat hole’ coal mine in a remote part of Meghalaya past two days. More than 100 personnel have been pressed into action since Friday morning to rescue the people from the 320-feet deep mine.
Apparently, dozens of emergency workers were pumping water out of a large trench that was flooded early Thursday by nearby river in East Jaintia Hills district in the mineral-rich state. Officials said that the water inside the mine is around 70 feet deep.
Personnel from the National Disaster Response, State Disaster Response Force and civil defence are included in the rescue operation.
The rescue workers from NDRF and divers searched inside the flooded coal mine and all accessible areas with the help of boats. Muddy water and coal dust are a big challenge to the rescue workers further causing poor visibility inside the mine. Lack of map or plan of the mine – divided into chambers – is available, making it tougher to locate the trapped people.
On Thursday morning, the police in East Jaintia Hills were informed about the missing miners. Commenting on the matter, the official said that the mine appears to be an old, abandoned one where illegal mining had resumed about a week ago.
Though ‘rat hole’ mines are common in Meghalaya as they are dug by locals but are very dangerous as the coal is pulled out from narrow, horizontal seams.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told NDTV, “The focus is on the rescue operations in the area. We are concerned about them.The NDRF and the police are leading the operation. We admit that illegal mining was going on. We will take action. This is not acceptable.”
Notably, a complaint has been registered against the owner of the mine who is missing.