SHILLONG: At least 13 people were trapped and feared dead due to flooding in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia hills district, police said Thursday.
The incident was reported to the district authorities Thursday morning and rescue efforts are on, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sylvester Nongtynger said.
"According to information received, 13 people were trapped inside an illegal coal mine at Ksan village under the jurisdiction of Saipung police station," the SP said.
The National Green Tribunal has banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya since 2014.
According to the SP, the labourers were engaged in the rat-hole coal mine near Lytein river around three days ago, and due to the overflowing of water they are all feared dead.
Water is being pumped out and efforts are on to identify the people behind the illegal mining.
A case has been registered against unknown people for their involvement in illegal mining of coal.
Disaster management Minister Kyrmen Shylla, who is also an MLA from Khliehriat constituency, said, "We are waiting for a report from the district authorities in this regard."
This is not the first time that labourers engaged in illegal mining of coal have been trapped in a mine, a police officer said.
At least 15 miners were trapped in such an illegal rat-hole coal mine near the Nangalbibra area in South Garo Hills in 2012.
The bodies were never recovered, officials said.