"We have retrieved bodies of four miners from a coal pit in Sawmer (village) Friday morning," Debangshu D. Sangma, the district police chief told IANS. However, two other miners managed to escape from the coal pit.
Sawmer village is under Ranikor police station, bordering about 140 km from Shillong the state capital of Meghalaya.
Though the tragedy occurred Thursday morning, the official said, the incident came to light only by night after two miners came out alive from the pit and informed the villagers about the tragedy.
"Neither the coal miner owner nor the manager of the mining informed us. But we immediately rushed for rescue last night and retrieve the bodies of the four miners from the pit," Sangma said.
Mining activities in Meghalaya are controlled by the indigenous people of the state who own the land.
The coal is extracted by primitive surface mining method called "rat-hole" mining that entails clearing ground vegetation and digging pits ranging from five to 100 square metres to reach the coal seams.
Workers and children go deep into these holes and extract the coal using traditional tools. Makeshift bamboo ladders take miners down into the pits to chip away through two-feet-high tunnels.
--IANS (Posted on 12-10-2013)