18:54 GMT17 June 2021
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    The Supreme Court was anguished by the fact that little was being done to save the lives of people trapped in illegal mines which have been flooded since 13 December.

    Terming it a question of '"life and death", the Supreme Court of India came down heavily on the government on Thursday, ordering it to bring out the trapped miners in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya "either dead or alive."

    While hearing a corresponding petition, the apex court expressed its dissatisfaction with the rescue effort to save the 15 miners who have been trapped for 22 days in illegal mines situated in the East Jaintia Hills.

    READ MORE: 13 Miners Feared Dead in Flooded Coal Mine in India

    "We pray to God that all are alive. Every minute counts and they should be brought out. No matter whether they are all dead, not dead or all alive, they should be taken out," the court said while hearing a petition which sought to scale up the rescue operation.

    The court also asked why the government hadn't ordered the army to join the rescue operation. The Meghalaya government had earlier told the court that the state was taking "sufficient steps" and deployed personnel from the National Disaster Relief Force, Navy and Coal India to support the rescue effort.

    A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court seeking to beef up the rescue operation.

    "We have lost all hope to see him alive again. I just wish they retrieve the bodies of my sons so that we can solemnly perform their last rites and pray for them," Krishna Limbu, a relative of one of the trapped miners, told media on Wednesday before approaching the court.

    READ MORE:30 Dead After Bus Falls Into Canal in Southern India — Reports (PHOTOS)

    Authorities have been struggling to pump out water from the 380-foot (115-metre) deep mine so that divers can approach the exact spot where the men are believed to be trapped. Navy divers entered the mine on Sunday but failed in their quest to locate any of the miners. 


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