Rescue operations to save the five miners trapped in a coal mine in the East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya continued for the fourth day on Thursday.

State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) executive director I. Mawlong, said that uninterrupted rescue operations are continuing since the five workers got trapped inside the coal mine on May 31.

“National and State Disaster Response Force, fire service personnel along with the local people are continuing their efforts to rescue the miners. Various equipment, including water pumps, are also being used for the purpose,” Mawlong said.

Fire service officials said the vertical depth of water inside the pit is about 152 feet.

Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Kyrmen Shylla along with senior officials visited the site of the accident for inspection and supervision of ongoing rescue operations.

East Jaintia Hills District SP Jagpal Singh Dhanoa said that due to sudden explosion of powerful dynamite (used to split coal pit), these workers got trapped in the sudden rush of water inside the mine and within no time the mine at Umpleng Elaka Sutnga was inundated.

Of the five miners, four are from Assam while one is from Tripura.

According to the local people, the chances of the trapped workers’ survival are extremely remote.

The police are still looking for the owner of the mine and the ‘Sardar’ (head) of the workers.

Cachar SP Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant said he has been in constant touch with the SP of East Jaintia Hills about the miners.

At least six people, who hailed from Karimganj district in southern Assam, were killed when they were working inside a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills on January 21 this year.

The latest incident (on May 31) is a grim reminder of the December 2018 illegal coal mining tragedy in the same district when 15 migrant miners from Assam died inside in an abandoned coal mine.

The 15 miners had been stuck in the coal mine at a depth of around 370 feet after a tunnel was flooded with water from the nearby Lytein river. Even the bodies of the miners could not be retrieved after many days of rescue operations.

In April 2014, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned indiscriminate and hazardous ‘rat hole coal mining in Meghalaya.

But mining allegedly continued illegally with the authorities turning a blind eye.

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