15 feared dead in Indian coal mine flood (India)

Fifteen coal miners are feared dead after being trapped in a flooded mine in India’s remote northeast, police say.

Rescue teams were working to pump water out of the mine but Meghalaya state Director General of Police, N Ramachandran, said there was little hope of any of the men having survived the accident, which occurred last Friday.

‘We have requisitioned a National Disaster Response Force team to rescue the trapped miners but hope for the survival of the miners is very bleak,’ he said.

The miners were trapped when water gushed into a shaft after they accidentally punched a hole in the wall of an adjacent mine in Rongsa Awe village, 370 kilometres from state capital Shillong, he said.

‘Altogether, there were (in) total 30 miners working in the coal pit,’ Ramachandran told AFP in Shillong.

‘Fifteen managed to come out while 15 others got trapped inside when thousands of gallons of water gushed in,’ he said.

The mine owner failed to inform authorities immediately after the accident, the police chief added. The owner is now in police custody.

The miners were working in a so-called ‘rat-hole’ mine in which workers crawl into a tunnel and use primitive implements to extract coal.

Meghalaya holds an estimated 640 million tonnes of coal that is mined mainly to generate electricity and to fuel operations in cement plants in India and neighbouring Bangladesh.

The country’s worst colliery disaster occurred in December 1975 when an estimated 372 miners perished after an explosion caused a flood in a mine in the coal-rich district of Dhanbad in eastern India.



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