15 Coal Miners Trapped Since Dec 13; Rescue Efforts Continue Despite Massive Flooding Of Illegal ‘Rat Hole’; Prayers Desperately Needed

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January 03, 2019

It’s not good news for the 15 coal miners who have been trapped in a flooded underground coal mine in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya.

Sylvester Nongtngr, Superintendent of Police of East Jaintia Hills district told NDTV “that the coal mine was located close to Lytein river and it was being operated illegally.

"The mine filled with water from inside while they were digging it and it collapsed," the police officer said.

After nearly three weeks in the ‘rat hole,’ authorities fear the men are dead. "We are doing our best to reach out to them. Our information is 13 people were inside at the time of flooding," Lethindra Sangma, a police official was quoted later by news agency AFP.

Rat Hole mining is a process of digging holes to make narrow tunnels to extract coal. It is an illegal process which is still practiced in some northeastern region.

According to Quora, “The mining is done by digging small holes into the ground, much like the... Rat hole mining is a term used in coal mining and is so named because of its name during colonial times, the 'Sistema del Rato,' and because of the sizes of the holes.”

This is the first incident with potential fatalities since a ban that was put in place in 2014, outlawing so-called ‘rat hole’ coal mining. Authorities remain very concerned about the people inside them and call the entire incident “very unfortunate.”

The ban instituted by the National Green Tribunal was in response to a 2012 incident in which miners fell victim to the dangerous practice. “At least 15 miners were trapped in an illegal rat-hole coal mine near the Nangalbibra area in South Garo Hills in 2012.

"The bodies were never recovered,” officials said.

Please join us in praying for the workers trapped and for their families as they wait for news on their loved ones.

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