The Meghalaya government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the families of the coal miners who got trapped in a rat-hole mine nearly five months ago have agreed to call off the search operation, PTI reported. Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said the state had filed an affidavit in the court on the matter.

Fifteen men had gone missing in the mine, which is located in East Jaintia Hills district, on December 13. The ongoing operation includes personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and the Indian Navy.

The state has attached the letters of consent from the miners’ families. “We have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court informing it that the family members of the miners have given their consent to call off the search and rescue operations,” Tynsong said. “We are waiting for directions from the Supreme Court on the matter.”

District Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills FM Dopth had submitted the letters to the state government on April 16. Dopth said that the water level had not decreased in the affected area. “The operations came to a halt yesterday [Wednesday] as the Lytein river is in spate following incessant rainfall in the region,” he said.

In April, the families were given an interim relief package of Rs 3 lakh, PTI reported.

On January 28, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Meghalaya government to continue their multi-agency operations to rescue the miners.

In March, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said his government will request the court for permission to stop the operation, which had cost Rs 2.5 crore till then. “The Supreme Court has been very clear that we cannot stop the operations to retrieve the bodies,” Sangma had told PTI.