Meghalaya: 5 miners trapped since May 30, Navy joins rescue efforts

Twitter/ Raymond Kharmujai

Thirteen members of the Indian Navy on Monday joined the efforts to rescue six trapped rat hole miners at Krem Ule in East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya for two weeks.

The five labourers, four from Assam and one from Tripura, have been trapped inside the coal mine since May 30.

Nearly 60 officials of the National Disaster Response Force and other state agencies are waiting for the water level in the 152-metre deep pit to fall to about 10 meters – the maximum level in which they can conduct the rescue operations.

The NDRF and SDRF teams verified the level of the water before resuming the dewatering process on Sunday and found that the water level had risen by two feet in the main shaft due to the overnight downpour, Shillong Times reported.

The Indian Navy team will use their remotely operated vehicle on Monday to ascertain the depth of the cave, an official told PTI.

Rat-hole coal mining is not permitted in Meghalaya after the National Green Tribunal’s ban on it in 2014. Workers dig a deep vertical shaft till coal seams are found in the mine. But illegal mining continues taking dozens of lives every year.

The new incident is a dreadful redux of the 2018 tragedy when at least 15 miners died due to the unscientific method of ‘rat-hole’ mining.

According to scroll.in, police arrested the owner of the coal mine last week but they are still on the lookout for the “sordar [mine manager]” who the authorities have identified as the main culprit.