Authorities are rushing high-power pumps to support rescue effort at a flooded coal mine in northeast Meghalaya state where at least 15 young miners remain trapped since December 13.

A team of about 100 NDRF experts have been camping at the mine site but their operations have been hampered by lack of sophisticated equipment, officials say.
A team of about 100 NDRF experts have been camping at the mine site but their operations have been hampered by lack of sophisticated equipment, officials say. (Reuters)

Authorities are rushing high-power pumps to support the rescue effort at a flooded mine in India's northeast where at least 15 young miners have been trapped for nearly two weeks, local media reported on Thursday.

There has been no sign of life so far as rescuers struggled to enter the mine where the young miners were trapped on December 13 after a shaft collapsed and the mine, which they were digging illegally, flooded.

S K Singh, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) assistant commandant, said the water was "not going down" and more pumps were needed before the mine could be cleared.

"The water level is not going down. We require more pumps, (the) administration is deploying more pumps. As the water level gets down we may again start our operation," he said.

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was slammed by opposition leader Rahul Gandhi for indifferent approach to the incident.

Criticism also flowed on social media with users highlighting India's assistance in rescue of Thailand cave boys and seeking similar efforts in Meghalaya operation.

'Rat-hole' mines

The area in Meghalaya state is about 130 kilometers north of Shillong, the state capital.

Those missing are believed to be teenage boys used by illegal mining groups to enter "rat-hole" mines with small openings.

A team of about 100 NDRF experts have been camping at the mine site but their operations have been hampered by lack of sophisticated equipment, SK Shastri, NDRF commandant leading the operations, said on Wednesday.

Court ban on mining

An Indian court had banned coal mining in the area in 2014 after environmental activists complained it was responsible for severe water pollution.

But the practice continues with locals illegally extracting coal using dangerous so-called "rat-hole" mines.

This involves digging pits on the side of hills and then burrowing small horizontal tunnels into the hill to reach a coal seam.

At least 15 miners were killed after they were trapped inside a flooded "rat-hole" mine elsewhere in Meghalaya in 2012. Their bodies were never recovered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies