India's Child Miners: Growing Up, Underground

In the mountains of northeast India, children as young as 9 years old mine for coal.
3:00 | 06/17/13

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Transcript for India's Child Miners: Growing Up, Underground
We begin tonight with the kind of story that may make you want to hug your kids of little tighter in the morning and provide a bit of ammo. The next time they complain about -- in the long it is a story about children who spend their days underground digging for coal sounds like. Something out of Charles Dickens but it is happening today. And -- one glimmer of hope could be a lesson for every kid in this country lucky enough to get a summer vacation tonight. ABC's Bob Woodruff explores the child miners. Of northern India. Deep in the mountains of northeast India and this is how the workday begins. -- treacherous five story climb down a slippery bamboo ladders. Yeah. No safety -- no emergency exits. And it. Grow up a journey that comes even more disturbing news. Young coal miner leading the way. -- His name has come and along with hundreds of other children he's desperate enough. And small enough room to work this dark and dangerous underground system of tunnels -- -- Eight hours a day six days a week in one of the most frightening places on earth. That's got. Where a good day ends with a few dollars and if you're lucky daylight. So. This is -- here. Indian state of -- life. Stuck between China Bangladesh and on market it's isolated morals that -- -- -- cool and money -- made. So come and on the road big saves big -- -- all -- their findings proximity. -- -- up on the hill this is really the business. -- -- -- -- We meet women who spend their entire day busting up the -- And -- the men who carry it to giant piles that are then trucked off to power factories in India and Bangladesh. We've come here with Arizona lingle social worker who grew up in -- -- than she warns what we're seeing is just the beginning. Her children's rights group in falls recently uncovered something even more shocking -- Many. These miners are children solemn not teenagers -- They found and photographed. Hundreds of that was the youngest child he's ever known about that worked in the line. News nine years old. She takes us to meet him a boy who has been working these minds since he was twelve. Assets the earbuds and cell -- might make him look like a normal teenager but when you hear the -- You realize that this Portland. -- -- -- -- It gives. He has seen accidents. Of the movement collapsing fielded some very lucky if you have survived. That we -- is as -- as -- and then have him. Events and things in it and. -- leads us into the mine where he works with his uncle. -- just over forty years old he's a veteran of these and yeah. Nichols if they -- all say they might collect -- -- -- worth about ten US dollars. I don't know man go to. -- -- -- -- -- -- How -- call and we'll. Flooding isn't our only concern tremors are felt here every day -- this region is due for a major earthquake. You know I'm going to meetings because who aren't being. And now we descended into total darkness and confusing days of -- And -- seems to laugh line. -- -- -- -- And that's fine -- The air is there and I'm finding it hard to -- To find a way out we rely on a single flash. Better go now. This kind of child labor -- banned in India since 1950 to him but it's each state to enforce the law. Any authority is easily -- Plus since India's constitution says the -- native people have first say over the land. There's not much to stop children like him book who have nothing else. Good morning. OK. -- yeah. As we work our way back up it's hard to imagine spending another minute in his place let alone eight hours day. Afraid. When we are crawling in there how could we've gotten out just by turning around there's no other access. I'm -- there's no other -- I'm that they think that. Nearly every -- we need more young minors who shares stories unspeakable tragedy. This watched as it collapsed and killed several of his friend that died instantly when -- drafted him. They -- never again. And his father was a minor two and had the same -- He died a few years ago leaving -- with nothing to survive -- had to come here and grow up fast. He places his favorite song it's about what do you have a girlfriend and in love with someone. -- -- -- -- -- And he does a lot of laughing with a -- there's a lot of smiling. Does he just not known much outside this world with what could be like. Yes and now seeing in life outside this place. This he looks about five to six days a week. Who combines live in the whole world really violent. And. Then discovers something that helps us understand why -- risks his life down in that -- An eight. Good morning how many people have fathers or Brothers that they work in the mines. All of you. That's almost everybody. It's a private school. Principal the former child miner himself. He built it to give children here a way out. Their families have managed to scrape together enough money to pay tuition. About six US dollars every month. Why -- -- -- the government is not paying for. The couple have sent some schools. And some of the areas nearby to get -- -- -- -- -- need. Meaning that sense of its most -- this could still happen. Which what you're dream as a job when you grow up in. Let me -- Pizza -- -- They wanna be a pilot. You wanna fly planes. And that brings us to him his dream ahead in the school it's for his little nine year old brother his name is did he McGrady who -- -- -- -- -- Whatever money isn't spent on food he -- here. Pain forbid he's education as he had an moon says that -- like kids festival at the school. AA doesn't want them -- about the game reminds. Like their father Mike Campbell. Whose other wishes to save up enough money biggest place by the time he's 25. And even Elizabeth getting it. That means eight more years of climbing down into the darkness of the rattles me. -- I'm Bob Woodruff for Nightline in northeast India.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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