Third Hole Reveals Nothing In Mine Rescue

August 15, 2007

A third hole revealed nothing new Wednesday as rescue crews continue to work to free six trapped miners. Two holes drilled so far have not been able to locate the men trapped in the mine.

A third hole breached Wednesday in an area where officials say the men may have sought refuge, but a microphone snagged at a bend in the hole about 20 feet above the roof of the mine and couldn't pick up any sound that might have come from below.

Officials planned to lower a video camera with its own microphone in the next attempt. Bob Murray, chief of Murray Energy Corp., the co-owner and operator of the Crandall Canyon Mine, has acknowledged the drilling may not show whether the miners are alive or dead.

At nearly every turn, he cautions reporters that the initial blast inside the
mountain may have killed the men instantly.

Mining rescues after 10 or more days are not unheard of. In May 2006, two miners were rescued after being trapped for 14 days following a collapse at an Australian mine. In 1968, six miners were rescued after 10 days in West Virginia.

"I am still very optimistic that we will find these miners alive. There is real reason to believe that," Murray said Wednesday. "I still remain very, very hopeful."

The miners "know damn well we're doing what we can to get to them, and we're going to get there - no doubt about it," Bodee Allred, the mine's safety manager, said Wednesday in his coal-blackened overalls.

Allred, who has a cousin trapped inside the mine, said the force of the collapse was "definitely something I've never seen before."

Murray has said there are many reasons to have hope, citing video images showing about 5 feet of headroom deep inside the mine, with 2 or 3 feet of loose coal covering the floor.

Mine-safety experts say that two sections of the Crandall Canyon Mine that collapsed in March may have been an early warning sign. They questioned whether the company, and the government agency
that oversees its work, should have closed the mine then.

Instead, operators moved to another section and continued mining.

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