Meghalaya: 13 workers trapped in ‘rat-hole’ coal mine, yet to be traced

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Updated: December 15, 2018 12:38:56 PM

In east Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, a 'rat-hole' coal mine collapsed on Thursday, leaving 13 workers trapped. They are are yet to be traced.

13 workers trapped in ‘rat-hole’ coal mine, yet to be traced (Source: Meghalaya Police)

In east Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, a ‘rat-hole’ coal mine collapsed on Thursday, leaving 13 workers trapped. They are are yet to be traced. The disaster relief force personnel has been continuing their operation since Thursday, Indian Express reported.

The mine, which is located next to Lytein river, is in the Saipung area of the district.

The National Green Tribunal banned the ‘rat hole mines’ of Meghalaya in 2014, and this particular mine was declared “illegal” by activists ever since. This rat hole mining technique is used is most mines in the state, reported IE.

State CM Conrad Sangma termed the incident as ‘unfortunate’ and accepted that illegal mining was going on in the area. He said that, the authorities were aware of illegal mining going on in the area. “Action will be taken up against all those involved in illegal mining,” he said.

SP Sylvester Nongtnger informed IE, “A case has been registered against the owner of the mine, James Sukhlain.” “National and State Disaster Response Force have carried out rescue operations. However, the workers are yet to be traced,” he added.

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The thirteen labourers who are trapped inside the mine, have been identified as Omor Ali, Shirapat Ali, Mezamur Islam, Mominul Islam, Amir Hussain, Munirul Islam, Saiar Islam, Mozid Sheikh, Raziul Islam, Samsul Haque, Chal Dhkar, Long Dhkar and Nilam Dhkar. All of them hail from West Garo Hills district and East Jaintia Hills districts of Meghalaya, and Assam.

A cousin of Omor and Shirapat, two brothers from West Garo Hills trapped inside the mine, told IE, that the two brothers went to work in the coal mines just 15 days ago. “Shirapat has two minor children, while Omor has three,” he told IE. “The two went there to work and feed their families, we don’t know whether it was illegal or not,” said another relative.

This accident happened after goons attacked two illegal coal mining activists Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma, who are instrumental in voicing protest against the continuation of ‘rat hole’ mining even after the NGT order. According to data, the coal production in the area, before the NGT ban was 6 million metric tonnes.

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