Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Friday said that the mishap that killed six labourers from Assam at Sorkari Deiñshalu in East Jaiñtia Hills district was due to some defect of a crane.

Almost all vertical coal mines in Jaiñtia Hills have cranes. The crane is used for taking miners down to the mine, and while coming out of the mine.

The crane is also used for taking out the dug coal from inside the mine to the surface.

When reporters approached Rymbui on Friday evening, he said that prima facie, it seemed that the accident took place due to some defect in the crane.

“Five persons have been identified, and one is yet to be identified,” he said.

Rymbui said that when police went to the spot at Sorkari near Rymbai, they found that six persons were already dead, but they could not ascertain the cause of the accident immediately since there were no people to ask.

“The head of the labourers (locally known as Sordar in the coal mine areas) who brought those people is also absconding.  Police are looking into it and a necessary inquiry is being done and we will get a report after that,” Rymbui said.

If the six workers have been engaged for coal mining there, the question arises, who is the owner of the coal mine?

When asked if the six persons were engaged in coal mining illegally, the Home Minister said, “Whether coal mining or not it is not known yet, but prima facie, there is an accident where the crane being used to carry those people has got some defect and it collapsed. But an exact report I am yet to get.”

On being asked if illegal coal mining is going on in the coal-rich areas of the state, Rymbui said that it is the duty of the government to prevent illegal things.

“It is not that I can rule out everything, but this type of thing opens our eyes that we need to monitor more to prevent illegal activities and especially this type of incident in which six human lives were lost,” he said.

Informing that police are registering the case and investigation is on, Rymbui said, “After proper investigation, we will see what needs to be done.”

He informed that the police have been monitoring vigorously as well as the district administration.

The latest tragedy in East Jaiñtia Hills comes after the major coal mine tragedy that occurred at Khloo Ryngksan in the same district on December 13, 2018.

15 miners were got trapped inside the coal mine after water from Lyteiñ river near the mine gushed into the coal pit.

The Army, NDRF personnel, and some leading companies and district administration were involved in the massive rescue operations but were not successful as only two bodies of the miners were retrieved.

After the operation continued for many months, it had to be discontinued because the mine was flooded.

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