At least 13 people are trapped after a purported illegal coal mine they were working in got flooded near the Lytein river in the East Jaintia Hills district in Meghalaya, PTI reported on Thursday. The police have launched a rescue operation to find the labourers, who went into the mine three days ago.

The matter was reported to the authorities on Thursday morning, Superintendent of Police Sylvester Nongtynger was quoted as saying. “According to information received, 13 people were trapped inside an illegal coal mine at Ksan village under the jurisdiction of Saipung police station,” Nongtynger said.

The police have registered a complaint against the unidentified owner of the rat-hole coal mine. In 2014, the National Green Tribunal had banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya.

The official said water is being pumped out of the area.

Disaster management minister Kyrmen Shylla, who is also an MLA from Khliehriat constituency, said, “We are waiting for a report from the district authorities in this regard.”

The labourers have been identified as Omor Ali, Mezamur Islam, Mominul Islam, Shirapat Ali, Mozid Sk, Raziul Islam, Amir Hussain, Munirul Islam, Saiar Islam, Samsul Haque, Chal Dkhar, Iong Dkhar, and Nilam Dkhar, NorthEast News reported.