The Meghalaya government on Saturday announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh to the families of the 15 people who are trapped in a flooded coal mine in the state since December 13, PTI reported. The mine in East Jaintia Hills district’s Saipung area is reportedly illegal.

“We have announced an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh for the families of the trapped miners,” Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills district FM Dopth said. The state approved the monetary relief on Friday as per directions of the National Green Tribunal.

The state government has sought special high-power submersible pumps from Coal India to rescue the miners, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said earlier in the day. “We are running out of time and I hope they respond to the request. We are waiting,” he said.

More than 100 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force and the state disaster response force were at the site on Saturday. Two pumps are currently working but “there was little impact on the water level since the water from the nearby Lytein river has got into the mine”, Superintendent of Police S Nongtynger said. Sangma had said on Friday that it would take 200 pumps to remove all the water.

Seven of the trapped labourers are from West Garo Hills district, five are from Assam and three from Langthari village. The police arrested the owner of the mine last week but his aide is absconding.