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19 Dec 2018

Abhishek Saha, The Indian Express

India: 14 miners remain trapped in flooded Meghalaya coal mine

"Six days on, 14 miners remain trapped in flooded Meghalaya coal mine", 18 December 2018

Search operations to rescue trapped miners in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills (EJH) district continued unsuccessfully for the sixth straight day on Tuesday [18 December] amidst heavy rains. The state police officially confirmed the identity of another worker inside, which takes the number of trapped miners to 14.

On Thursday [13 December], an illegal coal mine...collapsed and got flooded from the adjacent Lytein river, trapping the 14 workers. The miners are feared dead now although personnel of the NDRF [National Disaster Response Force] and SDRF [State Disaster Response Fund] continue the search operations...police arrested one [mine owner on] Friday [14 December]...The mine has been termed “illegal” by activists since coal mining in Meghalaya using the ‘rat-hole mining’ technique — which is used in most mines in the state including the one in which the accident occurred — has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014...

[The] Meghalaya chief minister... who had admitted a day after the incident that illegal mining was going on in the state — has reiterated that although strict action against any illegal coal mining is taken whenever reported, the size of the state and the remoteness of the certain mining locations often makes it difficult for the police to track down illegal mining.

The accident comes on the heels of an attack in November on activist Agnes Kharshiing, who has been vocal against mining in Meghalaya despite the NGT order, and her colleague Amita Sangma by goons hired by the coal mafia in the same district while they were trying to locate an illegal mine...