13 trapped and feared dead in Meghalaya mine flooding

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]t least 13 miners are trapped or feared dead in a coal mine collapse accident near Ksan near Lyteiñ river in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia hills district, on Thursday. The accident took place due to flooding in the old mine, in which the work resumed after years, just 3-4 days back.

“According to information received, 13 people were trapped inside an illegal coal mine at Ksan village under the jurisdiction of Saipung police station,” the Superintendent of Police said. Police assumed that they are feared dead due to overflowing of water in the mine.“The water is being pumped out with the help of a generator and is in progress,” he added.

“We are yet to recover the dead bodies from the pit,” Sylvester Nongtnger, the district police chief of East Jaintia Hills told IANS.

Officials said that the miners were involved in a illegal rat-hole mining scam, which is banned by the National Green Tribunal. “Efforts are on to identify the coal mine owner. We have already registered a case against the owner,” Nongtnger said soon after the accident.

The mining business in Meghalaya is on for more than a century and half now, in approximately 640 coal reserves in the state. About 30 years ago, illegal and indiscriminate coal mining geared up. In a statement in November, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma had said that no illegal coal mining activities have been going on after the interim ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal in April, 2014, reported UNI.

This is not the first time an accident like this has happened in the state. Earlier in 2012, 15 people died in a similar mine flooding accident. In the years 2013 and 2014 as well, four and five labourers died respectively in an illegal mine. The dead bodies of these people were never recovered.

The labourers that work in these mines are usually migrants from neighboring states and Nepal. The owners also employ minors in the unsafe mining conditions due to their reach in small mine-holes, easily.

Nongtnger had made it clear that the chances of survival of the miners were very bleak. Coal mine accidents are common in the state because of unscientific mining commonly known “rat hole mining”.