Is Rescue Nearer for Utah Miners?

Rescuers, using a small, vertical drill, have nearly completed a small tunnel to the location of six trapped miners in the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah. The tunnel will be used to lower communication equipment that hopefully will determine the miners are alive. A second, larger hole - wide enough to transport food, water and oxygen - is expected to be completed by late today or early tomorrow.

Rescue crews continue to work around the clock to locate the missing miners, who have been identified as Brandon Phillips, Manuel Sanchez, Carlos Payan, Kerry Allred, Don Erickson and Luis Hernandez.

Robert Murray, chairman of Murray Energy Corp., the parent company of Utah-American Energy Inc. that owns Crandall Canyon mine, said that while the holes being cut thousands of feet into the rock can provide a means of communication and sustenance to the men, it could be as long as a week before rescuers can clear out enough rubble to bring the men to the surface. “We will get to them as soon as we can,” said Murray, while acknowledging the men might have perished in the collapse.

On Aug. 8, Murray and Assistant Secretary of Labor Richard E. Stickler accompanied two family members of the trapped miners underground for 3 to 4 hours so they could see the rescue efforts first-hand.

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