Rescue teams today recovered the body of one out of the at least five miners who were trapped in a rat-hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district on May 30.
This body was recovered hours after Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said they have received preliminary information that divers of Indian Navy, who are engaged in the rescue work at the illegal mine at Umpleng in East Jaintia Hills district, have spotted two bodies inside the mine.
At least five miners were trapped in the mine when it was flooded after a dynamite explosion on May 30. Four of the miners are from Assam and one from Tripura.
The National Disaster Response Force, the state disaster response force, fire and emergency services personnel have been carrying out the rescue operations since then. Recently, they were joined by a team of divers from the Indian Navy.
Earlier, the rescue work had been disrupted due to heavy rain and water had to be pumped out before the operation could be resumed.
The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 imposed a blanket ban on rat-hole coal mining across Meghalaya, but illegal mining continues to take place, officials said.
Police have now arrested the owner of the coal mine and charged him with violation of the green court’s order.
In December 2018, 15 miners died after they were trapped in a coal mine at Khloo Ryngksan in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district. Only three bodies could be recovered following over a month-long rescue operation to trace the miners.