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Monday, August 13, 2007

Update on the Utah Miners and the Rescue Efforts

No good or bad news, it has been a week, a camera was lowered in and saw the equipment the miners were using, the camera captured a space big enough to survive but no signs of the miners themselves.

The rescuers are continuing with the assumption that the miners remain alive.

HUNTINGTON, Utah - Another attempt to sink a video camera deep inside a coal mine where six miners have been trapped since a collapse a week ago yielded no signs of life, officials said Monday, frustrating crews trying to find the men.

The camera was paired with better lighting, but still only saw about 15 feet when it was lowered into the mine overnight, said Al Davis, who oversees Western operations for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. The images that came back included a distorted conveyor belt and an intact roof.

It was the latest disheartening news for rescuers and relatives of the missing men. A video camera lowered into the collapsed mine Sunday revealed equipment, but no sign of the miners. On Monday, crews were planning to drill a third hole in the hopes of finding them, but cautioned that the effort could take up to six days.


Two holes have already been drilled about 1,800 feet down into the mountain containing the mine. The first is a 2 1/2-inch wide hole that rescue crews initially believed drifted during the drilling process into a neighboring sealed chamber. A microphone dropped into that first hole heard no sign of the miners and air samples recorded an atmosphere of only 7 percent oxygen — measurements similar to those known to exist in a sealed area of the mine and an oxygen level that would not sustain life.

The hole was later determined to be in an active work area, and rescuers were pumping air down the hole.

A second hole measuring nearly 9 inches allowed crews to lower a camera into a cavern that officials said showed a "survivable space." But images were limited and the camera was withdrawn to clear off one lens.

The second attempt to use the camera to get a glimpse of the missing men was hampered by poor lighting that limited the camera view to only about 15 feet into a 5 1/2-foot-high void at the bottom of the hole, far less than the 100 feet it's capable of viewing, said Richard Stickler, head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Rescuers saw a tool bag, a chain and other items that are normally seen underground in a mine, he said. "We did not see any sign at all of any of the miners," Stickler said.

Searchers were set to begin drilling the third hole midday Monday, Davis said.

Despite the setbacks, rescue leaders said they were proceeding under the assumption the miners remain alive.

Keep these men and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

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