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3 More Killed in Rescue Effort in Utah Mine


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Author Topic: 3 More Killed in Rescue Effort in Utah Mine  (Read 220 times)
Kristina
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« on: August 17, 2007, 10:50:07 am »

   Rescue efforts uncertain after three killed at Utah mine
Story Highlights
NEW: Hospital releases three of the injured rescue workers after treatment

NEW: Three rescuers remain hospitalized after three others killed

Apparent underground seismic "bump" cited as cause for new collapse

Rescuers were trying to reach six miners trapped since August 6



     
HUNTINGTON, Utah (CNN) -- Three rescue workers were killed and six injured Thursday night during an apparent "seismic bump" at a Utah mine, according to state and hospital officials.



 
Maria Lerma hugs daughter Adilene as she awaits news on husband Natalio; they reportedly learned he was OK.

 1 of 2 more photos   The workers were attempting to reach six miners who have been trapped in the Crandall Canyon mine since an August 6 collapse. There has been no contact with those miners.

Emergency work to clear a tunnel leading to the trapped miners will resume once the mine operator receives safety clearance from federal officials, Murray Energy Group Corp. spokesman Michael Knowles said.

However, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. early Friday said "underground mining for the time being is going to cease" but added above-ground work to drill a fourth hole into the mine would continue.

Huntsman said he would meet with officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Murray Energy Group "to get word on what they expect to do in hours and days ahead."

The three who died did so in a "remarkable act of selflessness," Huntsman said. "There is nothing more selfless than giving one's life while rescuing another."

He also pledged to improve mine safety -- "not only in Utah but throughout the country."

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman Rich Kulczewski told reporters an "underground bump" occurred at 6:35 p.m. MT (8:35 p.m. ET).

The event is described as an eruption of coal and rock caused by pressure from overhead rock as material shifts during drilling.

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Six ambulances and at least two medical helicopters converged on the mine site to ferry nine victims of the mountain "bump" to hospitals, Kulczewski said.  See photos of the emergency response

All rescue workers in the mine at the time of the seismic activity have been accounted for, Kulczewski said.

Mine worker Donnie Leonard said he was preparing to leave the mine at the end of his shift when he first heard yelling about miners being trapped in a new collapse.

"People were running everywhere," gathering stretchers and supplies, he said.  Watch how the rescue accident unfolded

The three fatalities were reported by Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo; by Castleview Hospital in nearby Price, where most of the injured were taken; and by Utah Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Tammy Kikuchi, who did not elaborate on the specifics.

Castleview received five patients besides the one who died. One was transferred to the Provo hospital, three were treated and released, and one was admitted with a back injury. He was in stable condition and probably will be released within three days, a hospital spokesman said Friday morning.

The rescuer transferred to Provo's Utah Valley Regional Medical Center is in critical condition with head trauma. He is alert and breathing on his own, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The sixth injured rescuer was taken to Salt Lake City's University of Utah Hospital with "non-life-threatening injuries," a hospital spokesman said.

The seismic activity was under magnitude 1.0, so it would not be reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

Earlier, officials said rescue efforts have been going disappointingly slow despite some encouraging news.

Samples taken from the third hole bored into the mine found that the air had a 16.8 percent level of oxygen, Richard Stickler, head of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration told reporters Thursday.

Air normally is about 21 percent oxygen; a level of 16.8 percent is survivable but probably would make a person sleepy or semi-comatose, said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.

Video taken from a camera lowered into the hole showed a large, open cavity, said Bob Murray, president and CEO of Murray Energy Group.

"If the men did go to this area that is open, the air is there, the water is there; everything is there to sustain them indefinitely until we get to them," Murray said.

But he stressed that rescuers do not know if the miners were in that area.

Rescuers are still more than 1,000 feet from reaching the section where the men were believed to be working, Murray said.

Seismic movement Wednesday night caused rubble to cover the "continuous miner" machine -- a powerful plow that chews up coal and shovels it into carts following behind -- halting work for a while, Murray said. Another shake delayed work later Thursday morning, he said.

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"The mountain is still alive, and the mountain is not allowing us to advance as rapidly as we would like to," Murray said.

Before Thursday night's collapse, Murray said it probably would take two days to drill the fourth hole in the mine, a 1,586-foot-deep shaft.

On Wednesday, underground listening devices, called geophones, picked up a "series of spikes" over a five-minute period.

Rescuers said they didn't know what the sounds were, but they said they were encouraged.

Murray said the sensors have not picked up the noises again.


Murray maintains that an earthquake, not mining activity, caused the collapse. However, seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey say there was no earthquake and the collapse registered as a 3.9-magnitude quake.

Friends and family have identified the trapped men as Louis Alonso Hernandez, 23; Manuel Sanchez, 41; Kerry Allred, 57; Carlos Payan, in his 20s; Brandon Phillips, 24; and Don Erickson, 50.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/17/utah.mine/index.html
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