As the fate of 15 miners trapped inside a flooded coal pit remained uncertain, two coal miners were killed after another coal mine collapsed in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills, an official said on Sunday. The fresh incident at Mooknor, Jalyiah village, about 5 km from the district headquarters in East Jaintia Hills came to light after one Philip Bareh filed a report that his nephew Elad Bareh (26) had been missing from his home since Friday.
According to district police chief Sylvester Nongtnger, “A search was conducted and his body was found in front of a 'rat-hole' coal mine. When we further checked inside the narrow mine, another body was found. The second man was identified as Monoj Basumatry.”
Meghalaya mine collapse: No way trapped miners will come out alive, says survivor who managed to escape
Meghalaya mine collapse: Rescue operation hits dead end as Navy, NDRF divers fail to reach pit's bottom
"It is suspected that boulders hit them when they tried to extract coal," Nongtnger said, adding efforts are on to trace the owner of the illegal mine.
The bodies of the miners were sent for an autopsy after an inquest was conducted.
Meanwhile, rescue operations to evacuate the 15 trapped coal miners at Ksan village were partially affected after the high-capacity specialized dewatering pumps of Kirloskar Brothers Limited and Coal India Limited encountered technical snags on Sunday, an official said.
"Pumping machines of Kirloskar and CIL have been stopped for the time being because of some technical problem. The pumps will be restored soon," said rescue operations spokesperson, Reginald Susngi.
However, he said Odisha firefighters continued to drain out water from the two abandoned coal mines.
An interim ban on the "rat-hole" coal mining in the state was ordered by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in April, 2014.
Earlier on Friday, the tribunal had imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on the Meghalaya government for its failure to curb illegal mining in the state. The Supreme Court had also expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of the rescue operations at Ksan coal mine.
Meanwhile, the accident triggered sharp reaction from former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who said illegal mining activities in Jaintia Hills were carried out due to the greed of the people in power.
"This is the outcome of the extreme greed of the people in power. The image of the state built over te years has suffered badly," Sangma told journalists.