Meghalaya: Miners still not traced

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Even after five days, the National Disaster Response Force has not been able to reach the trapped miners in the rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills by pumping out water from the mine.

According to the NDRF, five water pumps had been employed to pump out water about 80 feet deep. “We have managed to pump out one to two feet of water,” an NDRF official said on Sunday.

Officials say that water is filling up the mine as much as it is being pumped out which suggest that the adjacent river water is getting into the mine. The NDRF officials say that unless the water is pumped out to a reasonable level it would be difficult for the six deep divers to get into the mine with their equipment in the narrow channels of the mine.

“We will continue the operations till the district administration calls it off. We are trying our best and hope to get to the miners,” the official added. However, with each passing day the chance of the miners’ survival is getting dimmer.

According to reports, some of the miners were from Garo Hills, some from Assam and the others were local villagers.

The district administration has officially not handed out the list of the miners as investigation is still on with the arrest of the mine owner Jarin Chullet. A district official said that there may be more miners trapped in the mine than the reported 13 people.

According to reports, Superintendent of Police (SP) of East Jaintia Hills district, Sylvester Nongtynger said that they have arrested Krip Chulet of Norman village, one of the accused persons involved in illegal mining at Ksan area of Lumthari village,” .

Krip was wanted by the police for causing death due to negligence and various sections of the Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, the SP said.

Krip was involved in hiring labourers and overseeing the work and sending them down the 370 ft vertical shaft, a police officer said, adding that the mine was not registered and locals claimed that it had several owners.

James Sukhlain, the prime accused and suspected to be the owner of the illegal coal mine is on the run, the police officer said. His home in Langthari village was raided Friday night.

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