Crews Continue to Try and Reach Trapped Miners

By: Paula Haddock, ABC News
By: Paula Haddock, ABC News

In Utah on Aug. 7, the Murray Energy Corp. president defended his Utah mining operation as crews worked frantically hoping to reach six trapped coal miners and find them still alive.

One hundred-thirty-four rescuers are working around the clock trying to reach six coal miners trapped 1500 ft. below ground.

"I don't know if these miners are dead or alive, only the Lord knows," said Robert Murray, President of the Murray Energy Corp.

In a desperate attempt to make contact, officials are dropping dynamite, hoping the miners will hear it.

"It is a rudimentary means of communication. We are hoping to just hear a response despite the fact that crews are using 30-pieces of massive equipment. The mine's co-owner expresses frustration that they've only moved 310-ft. closer to the men," explained Alan Davis, Mine Safety District Manager.

"Progress has been slow, too slow," Murray added.

Murray is adamant that an earthquake caused the cave-in and furiously denies that a risky method of mining known as "retreat mining" was being used by the trapped miners.

"This statement is totally false, there was no retreat mining in immediate vicinity of those miners," he said.

An attempt to reach the men through an old mine-shaft failed overnight, when there was a mine-bump, causing coal to fall from the shaft making it too dangerous for rescuers.

"It will take three days if everything goes right," Murray admitted.

A former top federal and state of Kentucky mine safety official said the method of mining used at the Utah mine that collapsed has a history of being disproportionately deadly.

Tony Oppegard said the "retreat mining" method is the most dangerous type of mining there is.

According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, retreat mining requires very precise planning and sequencing to ensure roof stability, while the pillars supporting the roof are removed.


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