India’s top court says “every second counts” for miners trapped for 3 weeks

Date: Jan 7, 2019

India’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the government to list the steps it plans for the rescue of at least 15 miners trapped in a so-called “rat-hole” coal mine for three weeks in a remote hilly state, warning that “every second counts”.

The workers were ensnared on December 13 when the illegal mine in the northeastern state of Meghalaya was flooded. Rescuers have so far only been able to find three helmets and two axes underground.

The country’s top court wondered why attempts to reach the miners had not yet been successful.

“Tell us by tomorrow, because for people who are trapped, every second counts,” Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri told the federal government, represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta.

The Meghalaya government told the court that nearly 86 people were working on the rescue effort since Dec. 14, including employees of state-controlled Coal India Ltd, the world’s biggest miner of the fuel.

Kyrmen Shylla, Meghalaya’s disaster management minister, told Reuters both government and private agencies had been involved in the bid to reach the miners, many of whose family members have given up hope.

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