As many as 13 coal labourers, most of them minors, are feared dead in an illegal rat-hole mine at Lomtharee village under Saipung police station in East Jaintia Hills.

Its been over 24 hours, since the labourers were trapped in the rat-hole mine. Rescue efforts by NDRF and state police personnel failed to yield results today.

The incident, however, opened a pandora’s box as far as rampant illegal mining is concerned despite the 2014 National Green Tribunal ban.

According to sources, the mine is believed to be an old one on which the labourers were engaged in the mining activity three days back.

The incident took place on Thursday morning, after they accidentally cut through an adjoining abandoned mine filled with water and due to overflow of water all 13 are feared dead.

East Jaintia Hills SP Sylvester Nongtynger said that the State Disaster Management Force and the NDRF team arrived at the incident spot at 8 this morning and rescue operations are underway.

The incident yet again exposes rampant illegal mining being carried out in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district despite a blanket ban put on rat hole mining by the National Green Tribunal back in 2014.

Meanwhile, following the incident, a case has been filed against unknown people for indulging in illegal mining.