East Jaintia Hills (Meghalaya):
Five labourers have been trapped inside an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills since Sunday after a dynamite explosion caused a breach in the walls of the ‘rat hole’ mine, police said, adding water had rushed inside. Four workers are from Assam, one is from Tripura.
The State Disaster Response Force and the police have launched a rescue operation.
“Based on information received from the Superintendent of Police, Silchar, the mine workers have been trapped in a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills since May 30. The district police were able to identify the probable location of the incident at 06:00 am, the next day. The delay in the identification of the probable site was due to inclement weather, poor light conditions and non-availability of any eyewitness account,” said Jagpal Singh Dhanoa, police chief, East Jaintia Hill.
“Higher authorities were apprised about the probable incident and in collaboration with District Administration, search and rescue operation was launched,” he added.
He said according to eyewitness accounts, due to the sudden explosion, the workers got trapped in the sudden flow of water into the mine.
Police said a man named Nizam Ali, the labour chief, did nothing to rescue the trapped workers and chased away the survivors. A case has been registered against him.
“One person has been detained for questioning. Unfortunately, he has tested positive for Covid and is being kept under guard at the Isolation Centre at Khliehria,” the police said.
In January this year, six people from Assam’s Karimganj district had been killed while working inside a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district.
In 2018, East Jaintia Hills, infamous for its illegal ‘rat hole’ coal mines, made headlines when 15 migrant miners from Assam had died inside in an abandoned coal mine.