Utah Miners Still Trapped

Six miners are still trapped 1,500 feet below ground in Utah. At least one rescue attempt has failed and it’s not clear whether the men are even alive.

One rescue team was hoping to get within 50 feet of the six men, but the route was impassible.

“I will tell you I’m extremely disappointed. This is a set back. I had hoped this would work,” said Robert E. Murray, president of Murray Energy Corp.

The miners were stranded by a cave-in early on Aug. 6, 2007. They are believed to have enough water and oxygen to last several days if they’re still alive. Officials report the six are 1,500 feet below ground and almost four miles from the mine entrance.

“They are bringing in the professionals and all the equipment they need, hopefully to make this a successful outcome,” said Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Governor of Utah.

Families of the trapped miners have gathered at a nearby senior center. There is little they can do, but wait and pray.

What’s done here is known as “retreat” mining: digging out giant underground chambers to get the coal, their roofs supported by large pillars like a large checkerboard. As the miners finish with one section, they pull out the pillars to get the coal in them. It’s considered a money maker, but a former safety official calls it “the most dangerous type of mining there is.”

The mine has reportedly been cited for hundreds of safety violations in the past three years, but the owner insists the mine has an excellent safety record, and the accident rate there is half the national average.

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