Australia: Two Miners Still Trapped, Rescue at a 'Delicate Stage'

Two Australian gold miners who have been trapped underground for about a week are in good spirits as rescue efforts continue, according to the miners' employer.

Todd Russell and Brant Webb have been trapped underground since April 25, when what the mine operator is calling a "large seismic event" caused underground rock falls at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine in northern Tasmania. Miner Larry Knight was killed, while 14 others managed to escape.

Beaconsfield Mine Manager Matthew Gill said that rescuers first made contact with Russell and Webb around 5:45 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time on May 1, and said later in the day that rescuers "continue to have permanent contact" with the two miners. He added that food and fresh water has been passed to them and that "they both remain in good spirits under the circumstances."

Rescuers are drilling a tunnel to get to Russell and Webb, although McGill noted that such an approach "would have to proceed very carefully to try to avoid any further rock falls."

"The rescue has reached a very delicate stage and we are seeking and getting extensive expert advice on how to proceed safely," McGill said. " … We must stress that the conditions are very difficult and very dangerous, and that people should not underestimate the difficulties in getting them out safely."

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