Four miners die in Nagaland rat-hole mine, locals allege toxic gas inhalation

Updated on Mar 04, 2019 09:10 AM IST
The incident took place in Phichen area of Nagaland’s Longleng district. The bodies were retrieved during the night and were kept at the police station. The deceased have been identified as Jitan Tanti, Krishnan Gogoi, Tutu Deka and Sushan Phuton — all natives of Assam.
Bodies of four coal miners were fished out from an illegal rat-hole mine in Nagaland’s Longleng district. A case of unnatural deaths has been reported and police suspect a mudslide or inhalation of a toxic gas as possible causes of the deaths.(Reuters)
Bodies of four coal miners were fished out from an illegal rat-hole mine in Nagaland’s Longleng district. A case of unnatural deaths has been reported and police suspect a mudslide or inhalation of a toxic gas as possible causes of the deaths.(Reuters)
Hindustan Times, Guwahati | BySadiq Naqvi

Bodies of four coal miners were fished out from an illegal rat-hole mine in Nagaland’s Longleng district, officials said on Sunday, adding that the cause of death was yet to be ascertained.

A case of unnatural deaths has been reported and police suspect a mudslide or inhalation of a toxic gas as possible causes of the deaths. “It could either be because of a mudslide which blocked the mine or emission of some toxic gas inside the rat hole,” John Tsulise Sangtam, deputy commissioner of police, Longleng, said. The mine was abandoned, he added.

The incident happened in Phichen area of the Longleng district. Sangtam said an official was informed about the deaths late on Saturday. The bodies were retrieved during the night and were kept at the police station.

The deceased have been identified as Jitan Tanti (40), Krishnan Gogoi (32), Tutu Deka (28) and Sushan Phuton (37) — all natives of the districts of neighbouring Assam. The bodies of the four were handed over to their families on Sunday without a post-mortem, said Sangtam, adding that, “The families said they did not want a post-mortem.”

The deputy commissioner, however, said the “illegal coal mines have been abandoned after the January notification of the state government that completely banned illegal coal mining”. The deceased used to work at the illegal coal mine when it was still functional, before the January notification, said Sangtam. “They seem to have gone to the abandoned mine to get their belongings,” he added.

Horu Bhai, the neighbour of Gogoi and a resident of Sivasagar district, said the four entered the mine on around 1.30 pm on Satursday. “They died because of toxic gas. The mine had been blocked for some days because of mudslide following rains. The work resumed yesterday,” he claimed.

Mining has continued in the region despite ban, he added. A top official of Mon district, which houses several coal reserves, also said the mining has continued despite the ban.

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