At least 13 miners are feared dead after they got trapped by flooding in an illegal "rat hole" coal mine in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya.
Sylvester Nongtngr, Superintendent of Police of East Jaintia Hills district told NDTV that the coal mine was located close to Lytein river and it was being operated illegally. "The mine filled with water from inside while they were digging it and it collapsed," the police officer said.
"We are doing our best to reach out to them. Our information is 13 people were inside at the time of flooding," Lethindra Sangma, a police official was quoted later by news agency AFP.
Unsafe so-called rat-hole coal mining have been running illegally despite a National Green Tribunal ban in place in Meghalaya since 2014. Earlier this month, anti mining activist Agnes Kharshiing was attacked by alleged coal miners in the the same district.
"The incident where 13 miners have been trapped in mines in East Jaintia Hills is really unfortunate," Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said, quoted by news agency ANI. "We're very concerned about the individuals and their lives. NRDF, district administration and the police are doing all they can to save the lives of these miners," he added.
This is not the first time that labourers engaged in illegal mining of coal have been trapped in a mine, a police officer said.
At least 15 miners were trapped in an illegal rat-hole coal mine near the Nangalbibra area in South Garo Hills in 2012. The bodies were never recovered, officials said.
(With inputs from AFP)