The fate of 14 miners, who have been trapped in a flooded coal pit in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district for a week, remains unknown as rescuers are battling with the surging water level inside the 370-feet coal pit, an official said on Wednesday.
A government official, who is overseeing the rescue operations at the Lumthari mining site, about 130 km from here, said the trapped miners are feared dead as the water from nearby Lytein stream is gushing into the pit.
"Only a miracle can save these miners. None of us knows where these miners are. They need oxygen and food to survive," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has used sonar system and underwater camera to detect the trapped miners. However, the system failed to locate any of those trapped in the main well due to poor visibility.
Experts from Coal India Limited, geologists have visited the site.
The accident inside the coal pit on December 13 morning was of significance, especially after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on "rat-hole" coal mining in the state from April 17, 2014.
"The State Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary Y. Tsering to conduct an inquiry into the entire matter and submit a detailed report before the State Commission within 30 days," MHRC Secretary Aldous Mawlong said.
"We are putting all efforts to evacuate the trapped miners. We are using all available technology," Assistant Commandant NDRF, Santosh Kumar Singh, told IANS.
More than 100 rescuers including 72 members from the NDRF, 23 from State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and five members of the Fire and Emergency Service were deployed at the site.
Police has registered a case against the mine owner under several sections of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, and Section 21(1) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.
(With inputs from agencies.)