Shillong: Rescue operations in Meghalaya to locate 14 trapped labourers has not yielded results, even after a week. Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission has initiated a suo motu action against the state government and issued a notice for an inquiry into the disaster.
Miners were trapped on December 13 after water from nearby Lytein river had gushed into the illegal rat-hole mine at Ksan area Lumthari village, a senior official said, adding the exact number of victims could not be ascertained as the mine owners did not maintain a logbook.
They are now feared dead as water from the river has been gushing into the 370-feet-deep pit.
Meghalaya Human Rights Commission secretary Aldous Mawlong said a notice has been issued to chief secretary Y Tsering to cause an effective inquiry into the accident.
Meanwhile, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) CO SK Sastri told ANI, “On December 13, Meghalaya administration informed us that 13 labourers were trapped in a mine in East Jaintia Hills. Two teams with equipment were sent immediately. The operation started on December 14 but nobody has been found till now.”
The search operation was affected by strong winds and heavy rain, police said. “Only two pumps were in service today. Authorities are planning to use more pumps as there was no sign of a dip in the water level. Divers can get in only after the water level subsides,” Superintendent of Police S Nongtynger said.
The NDRF teams, which are involved in the rescue operation, along with the Meghalaya Disaster Response Force, have suggested the district administration to ask the Oil Natural Gas Corporation to deploy submersible water pumps to reduce the water level.
Earlier, the Meghalaya government sought the Union Home Ministry’s help to rescue the miners. “I have spoken to the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and requested him to send in more professional teams and the best equipment they have,” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told mediapersons on the sidelines of a programme.
The union minister, he said, has taken up the matter with experts and soon more assistance would arrive at the accident site.
SP Nongtynger said the exact number of miners trapped inside the pit is yet to be ascertained. “With the identification of one more victim, the number of trapped miners rose to 14. As the mine operators did not maintain a log book, it is difficult to ascertain the exact figure,” he said.
One person, identified as Krip Chullet, has been arrested so far pertaining to the case. Chullet was allegedly involved in hiring labourers, overseeing the work and sending them down the shaft.