Officials on Tuesday confirmed that many people were fear trapped as three abandoned coal mines collapsed during illegal mining in Jharkhand's Dhanbad district.
The first incident happened at Kapasara outsourcing project of Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) in Nirsa police station area around 5 pm on Monday, they said.
The second incident took place in Chach Victoriya of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) in Nirsa on Monday night, while the third incident happened on Tuesday morning at Gopinathpur open cast mines of the ECL in Panchet police station area, they said.
Rescue operations with heavy machinery are underway at the three mines, officials said.
The incidents happened during illegal mining and only the coal companies can specify the number of people trapped inside, said Superintendent of Police (Dhanbad-Rural) Reeshma Ramesan.
"I can't say the number of casualties and injured. We are verifying the details and would say after getting reports. Our teams have rushed there," she said.
Fearing police action, families of the illegal miners are yet to report to the authorities if there was any person missing, officials said.
Villagers also managed to rescue some of those who could come out of the debris, before the colliery officials or police reached the spot, they said.
An official of the ECL said the incident occurred at abandoned mines and so it falls in the purview of the district administration.
"Within our working mines, there is no such information (of collapse). That might be due to illegal activities in abandoned mines but not in our working mines," he said.
"We are not in a position to tell about the number of villagers trapped," he added.
Three people are feared trapped and five persons injured in In the Gopinathpur mine of the ECL, official sources said.
In the Kapasara colliery of ECL, three persons are feared trapped and two persons injured, they said.
Several slippers were found at the entrance gates of the mines, indicating many were trapped.
The BCCL, however, said that it will share the details later.
In Chach Victoriya area of BCCL, three persons were feared trapped in debris after the roof collapsed during illegal mining, official sources said.