Underground Search For 6 Miners Suspended After Cave-In Killed 3 Rescuers

HUNTINGTON, Utah (AP) - The desperate underground drive to reach six trapped miners was suspended indefinitely Friday after a catastrophic cave-in killed three rescuers inside a mountainside mine that keeps shaking.

The announcement from Richard Stickler, head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, came after a cave-in Thursday killed three rescue workers and injured at least six others who were trying to tunnel through rubble to reach them. The initial cave-in occurred Aug. 6.

"Is there any possible way we can continue this underground operation and provide safety for the rescue workers? At this point we don't have an answer," Stickler said.

The cave-in at 6:39 p.m. was believed to be caused by what seismologists call a "mountain bump," in which shifting ground forces chunks of rock from the walls. Seismologists say such a bump caused the Aug. 6 cave-in that trapped the six men more than 3 miles inside the central Utah mine.

The force from the bump registered a 1.6 at the University of Utah seismograph stations in Salt Lake City, said university spokesman Lee Siegel. It was the 20th reading at the university since the original collapse, which registered a 3.9 on Aug. 6.

"These events seem to be related to ongoing settling of the rock mass following the main event," Siegel said Friday morning. "I don't think I'm going too far to say that this mountain is collapsing in slow motion."

The initial collapse led to the frenetic effort by rescuers to dig through the mine toward the men and drill narrow holes atop the mountain in an attempt to learn their whereabouts and perhaps drop food and water.

Underground, rescuers had advanced only 826 feet in nine days. Before Thursday's cave-in, workers still had about 1,200 feet to go to reach the area where they believe the trapped men had been working.

Mining officials said conditions in the mine were treacherous, and they were frequently forced to halt digging because of seismic activity.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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  • by mom Location: KY on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:20 AM
    These men go into the coal mines to work because they are honorable people who want to support their families. They all know it is a very dangerous job, and just going inside is a risk they take every day. But, they still do it, because there are not many jobs that pay decent wages for people to live on. It is a very sad situation, and I, like everybody else, hope they can get them out. I hope they will be able to investigate this and find out the real reason these people had to lose their lives underground. I also hope that if the mine owners are at fault, that they will be held accountable. If it is from retreat mining, then it is past time to take a look at stopping it completely. The lives of our coal miners are much more valuable than the almighty dollar these companies are making.
  • by Darlene Location: Ky on Aug 17, 2007 at 06:43 PM
    My uncle was a coal miner as was more of my family. He is retired now but I have to say, This breaks my heart. While I understand the safety of the rescuers are at sake, what about the 6 lives down below. If there is any chance at all for them to be alike, isn't there any safe way to continue? I could not face the fact that not only my loved one is underground, possibly alive, They are leaving the 6 below. If the mine caves I understand that they could be crushed but if you dont search for them they will die slowl anyway. It is totally sad. My heart goes to everyone involved. My god be with you all and many prayers to everyone!
  • by steve Location: prestonsburg on Aug 17, 2007 at 01:41 PM
    My father and grandfather where coal miner's, my father worked for 30 , grandfather 40 . The removal by the means that was being used is the most diffcuilt in mining. I do not have much hope for the the six miners. I hope I am wrong!!! But I know how it feels to have someone you care for in a very diffcult position. Please GOD look after all the people helping. And by all means the people underground!!!!!
  • by Kim Location: Paintsville on Aug 17, 2007 at 12:57 PM
    I think it is a shame that the 6 trapped miners in Utah do not deserve the same efforts in trying to save them as the people in the Twin Towers had. There may be only 6, but they are people, OUR people with families. Though I do pray for the victims' families, I also believe that the families of those Miners deserve at least, a little hope.
  • by Meghan Location: Georgetown on Aug 17, 2007 at 09:01 AM
    My heart and my prayers go out to all of those involved in this whole event. Words cannot express what anyone has gone through or how wounded the soul of America is at this moment. As that sign shows above "Proud to be an American-Proud to be a Coalminer"


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