Two miners were killed when another illegal ‘rat-hole’ coal mine collapsed in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hill on Sunday, IANS reported. The accident comes as rescue operations continue in search of the 15 miners trapped inside a flooded mine in the same district.
Sunday’s mine collapse came to light after Philip Bareh filed a report saying his nephew Elad Bareh had been missing since Friday.
“A search was conducted and his body was found in front of a ‘rat-hole’ coal mine. When we further checked inside the narrow mine, another body was found. The second man was identified as Monoj Basumatry,” District police chief Sylvester Nongtnger told IANS.
“It is suspected that boulders hit them when they tried to extract coal,” he added.
Police said they were looking for the owner of the illegal mine.
Meanwhile, efforts to rescue the trapped miners hit a roadblock on Sunday as the two high-powered pumps engaged in dewatering the flooded mine did not operate the whole day after developing technical glitches, officials told PTI.
Navy divers could not venture down with no change in the water level, they said.
The miners have been trapped since 13 December.
In 2014, the National Green Tribunal had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya, IANS reported. The tribunal on 4 January imposed a Rs 100-crore fine on the state government for its failure to curb illegal mining.
(With PTI inputs)