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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Update on Utah Miners and Rescue Attempt: 8/26/07

It is not looking good even for the most optimistic.

After three weeks of drilling and digging toward six men trapped inside a coal mine, federal officials and mine managers were poised Sunday to decide whether to halt the effort and leave the men entombed.

Crews pierced the mine shaft with a sixth borehole Saturday afternoon to find a debris-filled area too small for the men to survive.

"'Zero void' was the direct quote," said Colin King, a Salt Lake City attorney representing the families of the miners.

The Crandall Canyon miners were last heard from about 3 a.m. Aug. 6, just before a thunderous shudder inside the mountain cracked the ribs of the mine, cutting off an exit route and filling the shaft with debris. It's never been clear if they survived the cave-in.

Air samples and video taken from the sixth hole were to be released Sunday, the Department of Labor said.

Earlier bore holes showed hazy images and some air samples so depleted of oxygen as to be unable to support life. Repeated efforts to signal the miners have met with silence.

The families are, naturally, disappointed and distraught by the news.

King said the families were disappointed by the news.

"They are distraught. They're very frustrated for good reason," he said.

The Crandall Canyon Mine's co-owner has said this hole, the sixth drilled more than 1,500 feet into the mountain, will be the last effort to find a sign of the men, who may not have survived the massive cave-in Aug. 6.

However, King said, mine officials did not rule out the possibility of drilling a seventh hole, but did not provide any specific plans or possible locations for another hole.

"They left the possibility open that they were possibly considering another hole," King said. "It didn't sound like that was uppermost on their list of to-dos."

Drilling on the sixth hole was completed late Saturday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Labor said, reaching a depth of more than 1,700 feet. Department of Labor spokesman Matthew Faraci said the same testing done on previous holes air samples, signaling in hopes of a response from the miners and dropping a video camera into the mine shaft would be done. An update was expected Sunday afternoon.

Keep them in your thoughts and for those that pray, in your prayers.