Rescuers Dig Toward Trapped Pennsylvania Miners
NewsMax.com Wires Saturday, July 27, 2002
-- Digging resumed Friday evening at Rescue Shaft 1 so rescuers were about 150 feet away from the nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine after waiting most of the day for equipment and another 1,500-pound 30-inch drill bit to replace the one broken earlier.
A drill bit used by to dig to the miners broke early Friday and drilling came to a halt for most of the day while workers tried to remove the stuck drill bit and special equipment was flown in to the mine, about 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
As rescuers worked to free the broken bit, a second rescue shaft was started about 75 feet from the original rescue hole, but workers had reached only about 40 feet down when the original drill bit was freed.
The Navy has sent underwater medical experts and nine hyperbaric decompression chambers to the site.
Because the miners have been about 150 feet underground, decompression will be necessary when the miners are brought up because they could experience the bends, according to U.S. Navy Capt.
According to Pennsylvania state officials, water is being pumped out of the mineshaft where the nine miners are trapped and the water level has been dropped by approximately 17 feet.
"It needs to drop another 16 to 17 feet to significantly relieve the water pressure surrounding the air pocket being provided for the miners," said Karl Lasher, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Mark Schweiker, much of the rescue effort has been based on deductive reasoning, guess work and luck because no one has seen the miners since Wednesday night, when they were trapped by a wall of water that flooded the mine after the miners dug too close to an adjacent abandoned mine.
"The team really got lucky when they were able to find the chamber, enabling them to pump in air and increase the miners' chances of survival," Schweiker told reporters.
Rescuers were encouraged when they heard tapping on the 6-inch drill, but state officials said they have heard no more tapping since Thursday but they said the noise of the rescue effort might have masked any tapping.
The site was permitted in 1999 to Quecreek Mining Inc. a subsidiary of PBS Coals Inc., a subsidiary of Mincorp Inc. Quecreek contracted with Black Wolf Coal Co. of Friedens, Pa., to conduct mining operations at the site.
"I wanted to personally come to meet with the families and assure them that we are doing everything we can to rescue these workers," Schweiker said.
I know sooo many miners...a lot of my family mined for a living years ago.
This is so awful...Lord, help these poor men.