SHILLONG, Dec 23: Krip Chullet, who was arrested in connection with the mine mishap in East Jaintia Hills, has conceded that he was the owner of the 370-foot-deep illegal quarry.
Chullet was arrested on December 14 after 15 miners got trapped in the mine on December 13 after water from nearby Lytein River gushed into it.
Superintendent of Police Sylvester Nongtynger said Chullet admitted to being the owner of the mine in Lumthari village of Khliehriat area during interrogation, news agency PTI reported.
Two mine managers, Mohesh and James Sukhlain, are still on the run, he said. Sukhlain facilitates mine operations, while Mohesh is the person responsible for bringing labourers from West Garo Hills district and Assam.
Earlier, the police had said Chullet was involved in hiring labourers and sending them down the shaft.
All efforts to trace the labourers have turned futile as the water level in the mine showed no signs of receding in the past 11 days.
Around 20 miners had entered the 370-foot mine on December 13. After reaching the bottom of the pit, they entered the horizontal tunnels, often termed “rat-holes”, as each just about fits one person.
According to local people, one of the diggers could have accidentally punctured the walls of the cave, following which the river water gushed into it.
Five people were able to climb out of the flooded mine, leaving the others behind.
Seven of the 15 trapped labourers hail from West Garo Hills district, five from Assam and three from the remote Lumthari village, where the accident took place, the police officer was quoted as saying by PTI.
The state government on Saturday announced an interim relief of Rs. 1 lakh each to the families of the 15 miners and sought high-power submersible pumps from Coal India Ltd to flush out the water and rescue them.
Over 100 personnel of the national and state disaster response forces, along with the police, have been waiting for the water level to subside to begin the rescue work.
Mining expert Jaswant Singh Gill, who arrived at the site two days ago, has made recommendations to the state to hasten the operation.