Meghalaya coalmine tragedy: Dead bodies handed over to relatives (updated)

While five people have been identified, the identification of the sixth deceased is yet to be known.

By Larry Patwet and Ferdinand Rani

SHILLONG: (updated story)

At least six labourers lost their lives in a coalmine-related accident at Sorkari village under Diengshalalu near Rymbai in East Jaintia Hills (EJH) district of Meghalaya on Thursday.

According to Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, police were informed about the incident at 5.30 pm on Thursday, January 21, but since there were no witnesses, the cause of death is yet to be ascertained.

"According to prima facie report, it seems there was an accident with the crane which was used in mining. But the exact report I don't have it with me," Rymbui said.

Confirmed sources informed that the incident took place around 1 or 2 pm on Thursday when the cable attached to the crane that was used to ferry coal and miners snapped while the labourers were working underneath leading to a cave in.

While five people have been identified, the identification of the sixth deceased is yet to be known.

The Home Minister further stated that the Sordar of the area who brought these people (to work in the mine) is absconding.

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When asked whether the accident happened due to illegal coal mining, he replied, "I cannot ascertain the facts."

To a question on the revelation of illegal coal mining taking place in EJH following the accident, the Home Minister said that accidents can happen anywhere. "If at all there is illegal mining, then the law will take it own course," he added.

"The duty of the government is to prevent illegalities and it is not that I can rule out everything. But these kinds of incidents open our eyes that we need to monitor closely to prevent illegal mining, especially these types of incidents where six lives were lost," Rymbui said.

When asked whether an inquiry will be ordered into the incident, he said the question of instituting an inquiry does not arise since the police are already registering the case and investigation is being carried out.

"We have to wait for the report and see what needs to be done," he said.

Rymbui also claimed that illegal coal mining activities have considerably gone down in the state due to the continuous crackdown and monitoring by the police and the district administration.

Sources informed that the five deceased have been identified as Jilalud-din (25), Md. Dilwar Hussain (23), Ali Hussain (40), Maqbul Hussain (45) and Abdul Chobor (32), all residents of Assam.

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What relatives of the deceased have to say:

Relatives of five out of six deceased had arrived at Khliehriat, the headquarters of EJH, on Thursday evening itself as soon as they learn about the accident.

The dead bodies of five deceased have been handed over to the relatives after completion of post-mortem.

Speaking to TNT-The Northeast Today on Friday, the relatives informed that they received the news late Thursday evening.

When asked what kind of work the deceased were involved in, one of the relatives said, "Work is digging for coal. It is 160-feet deep. That is what we heard from people."

According to a relative of one of the deceased, Abdul Chobor, it has been a week since he worked here. "So, just within a week of his job, we got to know that he died yesterday (January 21). We got to know about it at 5 pm yesterday," he said.

It may be mentioned that on 13 December 2018, a mining tragedy which claimed the lives of 10 miners at Ksan village in EJH, had rocked the entire state and the Northeast.

(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)

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