Los Angeles Times

Inside the 'rat hole' mines where Indians risk their lives to find coal

MAGURMARI, India - Abdul Alim spent less than a week working inside the 370-foot-deep coal mine before deciding he'd had enough. The pit was too dangerous, the risk of flooding too great, the safety equipment nonexistent.

When a boss brought him and other workers to a market one evening to buy supplies, Alim told him he wanted to look for a belt. He and another miner slipped into the crowd and fled, hitching a ride and traveling 12 hours back home to their villages in northeastern India.

Three days later came news of what Alim had feared: The mine had collapsed and filled with water, trapping 15 workers.

More than a month after the Dec. 13 collapse, a rescue effort led by Indian navy divers and federal emergency management experts located one body floating deep inside the mine shaft - too badly decomposed to be retrieved - but found no sign of any others.

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