Two Indian miners dead in new accident, fate of missing 15 unknown

Indian Navy and NDRF personnel went inside a 370-foot-deep mine, where 15 miners are trapped, to ascertain the water level inside. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019

Two Indian miners dead in new accident, fate of missing 15 unknown

  • An “enquiry is underway” and the owner of the quarry is being sought
  • The incident comes as the fate of 15 other miners trapped in an illegal coal mine also in Meghalaya remained uncertain

NEW DELHI: Two miners have been killed in India’s remote northeast, police said Monday as rescuers kept up efforts to save 15 workers trapped for over three weeks in an illegal mine elsewhere in the region.
The two men were likely hit by boulders as they tried to extract coal while digging narrow tunnels on the slopes of a hill in mineral-rich Meghalaya state on Friday, police said.
An “enquiry is underway” and the owner of the quarry is being sought, police superintendent Sylvester Nongtnger said in a statement.
The incident comes as the fate of 15 other miners trapped in an illegal coal mine — known as a “rat mine” — also in Meghalaya remained uncertain.
The miners have been missing since December 13 when water gushed into the narrow pit from a nearby river.
Multiple teams from the National Disaster Response Force, Coal India and the Indian Navy have been struggling to pump out water from the 380-foot (115-meter) deep mine so that divers can approach the area where the men are believed to be trapped.
A federal environment court banned rat-hole mining in Meghalaya in 2014 after local communities complained it was polluting water sources and endangering miners.
But the practice — which involves digging into hills and burrowing narrow tunnels to reach the coal seam — continues with thousands of impoverished migrants risking their lives as rat-hole miners.
On Sunday, Coal India workers managed to pump water out from the main shaft, police said.
Many of the miners’ families though fear it is now too late for them to be found alive.


Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

Updated 38 min 1 sec ago

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

  • Marium, the female baby dugong had already lost her mother when she was initially found
  • Biologists tried saving her, but they believe she died of a combination of the plastic and shock

BANGKOK: An 8-month-old dugong nurtured by marine experts after it was found lost near a beach in southern Thailand has died of what biologists believe was a combination of shock and ingesting plastic waste, officials said Saturday.
The female dugong — a large ocean mammal — was named “Marium” and became a hit in Thailand after images of biologists embracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Veterinarians and volunteers had set out in canoes to feed Marium up to 15 times a day while also giving her health checks.
Last week, she was found bruised after being chased and supposedly attacked by a male dugong during the mating season, said Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.
She was brought in for treatment in the artificial sea on Libong Island in Krabi province.
“We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong, or dugongs, as they feel attracted to her,” Jatuporn said Saturday.
An autopsy showed a big amount of plastic waste in her intestine, which could also have played a part in her death as it led to gastritis and blood infection, he said.
“She must have thought these plastics were edible,” Jatuporn said.
The dugong is a species of marine mammal similar to the American manatee and can grow to about 3.4 meters (11 feet) in length. Its conservation status is listed as vulnerable.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-arcpha said Marium’s death saddens the whole nation and the world.
“Her death will remind Thais and people all over the world not to dispose trash into the oceans,” Varawut said at a news conference.