‘Only three helmets found’: No trace of 13 trapped Meghalaya miners
Rescue teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), and local police on Sunday continued their efforts to locate the 13 miners who were trapped on Thursday while working in an illegal coal mine in Ksan village of Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district.
According to police and the district administration, so far only 3 helmets have been found.
“We are working overtime, the NDRF has brought in loads of equipment and together we are sparing no efforts but unfortunately we are yet to locate any bodies so far,” East Jaintia Hills superintendent of police, Silvester Nongtyngnger told Hindustan Times over phone.
Despite a four-year-old ban on mining by the National Green Tribunal, mining activity was underway at the site located in Ksan village near Lytein River in the district. On Thursday, the mine collapsed, trapping the 13 people.
Revealing that the mine was extremely deep at 370 feet, he said, “It is in fact below the water level of the adjacent Lytein River, so you can well imagine the challenges we are facing to drain out the water.”
Expressing incredulity that coal mine owner Jrin Chullet a.k.a. Krip Chullet, who has since been arrested, had the audacity to take such a risk, Nongtyngnger said, “Imagine going down so deep and risking your workers’ lives and that too to carry out an illegal activity…. He and anyone else involved will not be spared, I assure you.”
Asked if Chullet was related to Nidamon Chullet, the mastermind of the November 8 near fatal attack on social activists Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) who had visited the area to document illegal coal mining, he said they may be of the same clan but whether they are related is yet to be ascertained. “Investigation is underway and we will leave no stone unturned, don’t worry,” he said.
According to a senior police official, the site of mishap is over 20 kilometres away from the place where the two activists were attacked.