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Two killed in ‘rat-hole mine’ collapse in Meghalaya as 15 others still trapped in another

PW Bureau

Rat-hole mining, which has killed thousands of workers in the state prior to its ban by India’s environmental court in 2014, continues to thrive despite the ban Shillong: Even as the fate of 15 people trapped inside a flooded coal pit in an illegal mine in Meghalaya since last month still remains unclear, another similar accident happened in another illegal coal mine in the state. Two miners were killed after a rat-hole coal mine collapsed in eastern Meghalaya, authorities said. Rat-hole mining, which has killed thousands of workers in the state prior to its ban by India’s environmental court in 2014, is still common in the region despite the ban. The two workers died at Mooknor, Jalyiah village – five kilometres from the district headquarters in East Jaintia Hills. However, the incident was only brought to light after a resident Philip Bareh filed a report that his nephew Elad, 26, had been missing from his home since Friday.
“It is suspected that boulders hit them when they tried to extract coal,” Nongtnger said, adding that efforts are on to find out the owner of the illegal mine.
“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,” Sylvester Nongtnger, district police chief, said. “It is suspected that boulders hit them when they tried to extract coal,” Nongtnger said, adding that efforts are on to find out the owner of the illegal mine. In the meantime, rescuers trying to reach the group of 15 miners are struggling to pump out water from the pit, with the dewatering pumps of Kirloskar Brothers Limited and Coal India Limited facing technical issues. “Pumping machines of Kirloskar and CIL have been stopped for the time being because of some technical problem. The pumps will be restored soon,” said rescue operations spokesperson, Reginald Susngi.