The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to file by January 7 a status report on the steps taken to rescue 15 workers who have been stuck in an illegal mine in the state since December 13, The Indian Express reported. The court was hearing a petition seeking urgent directions to the authorities to rescue the trapped miners.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that since the mine – located in the East Jantia Hills district – is illegal, there are no blueprints of its structure. There are many rat-hole mines spread over an area of five sq km, he added. Continuous seepage of water from an adjacent river into the mine is also hindering rescue work, he added.

“Take action against the mine owners,” the top court said, according to ANI. “Why should the workers suffer?”

The Meghalaya government told the top court that 72 National Disaster Response Force personnel, 14 Navy personnel, and Coal India personnel have been working at the site since December 14.

The miners were trapped following a blast in the mine. Rescue operations came to a standstill on Tuesday after high-powered pumps being used to draw out water developed technical problems. The entire rescue operation has been marred by poor communication and delayed responses from the government.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court had expressed dissatisfaction with the rescue operation and asked why the Army had not been called in for its support.