2 miners die in M’laya; fate of trapped miners uncertain

2 miners die in M’laya; fate of trapped miners uncertain
Workers lower the pipes into the mine shaft to pump out water. (The Telegraph)
Correspondent SHILLONG, JAN 6 | Publish Date: 1/6/2019 11:07:28 AM IST

Two more coal miners were killed after another illegal coal mine collapsed in another fresh coal mine accident in Meghalaya’s East Jain even as the fate of 15 miners, who are trapped inside a flooded coal pit remains uncertain, an official said on Sunday.

The fresh mining accident at Mooknor, Jalyiah village, about 5 Km from the district headquarters in East Jaintia Hills came to fore after one Philip Bareh filed a missing report that his nephew Elad Bareh went missing since  Friday. “A search was conducted and his body was found today (Sunday) in front of a rat-hole coal mine and when we further checked inside the rat-hole mine, another dead body was found and identified as Monoj Basumatry,” district police chief, Sylvester Nongtnger said.

Rescue ops hit fresh roadblock: Rescue operations for the 15 miners trapped in a flooded illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district for the past 24 days hit a roadblock Sunday as the two high-powered pumps engaged in dewatering encountered technical glitches, officials said.

The high-powered pumps of Kirloskar Brothers Ltd were recently pressed into action to dewater the main shaft, where the miners are trapped.

Another submersible pump from Coal India Ltd (CIL) also faced a snag, affecting dewatering operations in the nearby abandoned mines.

The CIL is expected to put into operation at least three more pumps on Monday, said R Susngi, spokesperson of the operation. However, little headway could be made in reducing the water levels in the main shaft and the nearby mines due to the malfunctioning of the pumps and fresh seepage, the official said.

Rescue divers from the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) too could not venture down to gauge the water level inside the main shaft as it was beyond the safe diving limit of 100 feet, the spokesperson said.

The current water level in the main shaft is about 160 feet, while its total depth is around 370 feet. Rescue work is suspended daily at around 5 pm as night falls. The Kirloskar Brothers pumps could be used for just one hour on Saturday, he said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress Sunday alleged that the BJP-backed Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government allowed illegal coal mining within six months of coming to power.

“The BJP and the National People’s Party (NPP) had both promised the people of the state to open up coal mining, if they were elected to power. Actually, what they did was open up illegal coal mining within six months,” Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma told reporters here.

The accident has further exposed the illegal coal mining activities in the state in violation of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya since April 17, 2014.

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