15 Mine Workers Trapped in Indian ‘Rat Hole’ for a Month

Rescuers attempting to save 15 men who became trapped in a network of tunnels after flash flooding in mid-December are losing hope. The coal mines in the northeast Meghalaya state are known as “rat holes” because they’re narrow, horizontal, and pitch black. On Dec. 13, water flooded into a network of the tunnels and trapped the 15, who have shown no signs of life since. A team of Indian navy divers remains at site, but has been unable to explore the tunnels because of the water, which reaches halfway up the 350-foot shafts. “There is no substantial decrease” in the water level to date, said S.K. Singh, who is part of the rescue effort, adding that the government is making “its best efforts” to save the men and that “we are still hopeful.” Rescuers hope the miners have found an air pocket, but their chances of survival fall by the day. Patricia Mukhim, editor of the local Shillong Times newspaper, visited the mine and said: “It looks very dangerous. It’s pitch dark down there... It is a hole of death.”