The operation to rescue more than a dozen labourers who got trapped in a Meghalaya mine last week continued for the seventh day on Wednesday.
The operation has so far failed to rescue any person as the water level in the flooded mine in the East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya has not receded, a senior official said.
Senior police officer Sylvester Nongtynger told news agency PTI that the family of one Assh Bahadur Limbu of Assam has said he was among those trapped inside.
If the claim is true, then the total number of people trapped inside the mine stands at 15, the officer said.
He said the exact number of miners trapped in the mine could not be ascertained as the owners did not maintain a logbook.
The labourers have been trapped in the illegal "rat-hole" mine in Lumthari village -- around 80 km from Shillong -- since last Thursday after water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it. They are now feared dead as water from the river has been entering into the 370-feet-deep pit.
The police officer said over 100 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the SDRF and the police were at the site and water was being pumped out continuously from the mine.
Doctors said the chances of survival of the trapped miners were diminishing every minute.
"Taking into consideration that the miners could have escaped to higher and safer grounds, starvation, dehydration, compounded with the toxic gas underneath, is a cause of concern," they said.
Authorities said they have not given up their efforts to rescue the trapped labourers.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had on Monday sought the help of the Union Home Ministry.
The NDRF has suggested the district administration to ask the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to deploy submersible water pumps to reduce the water level.
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