2nd camera shows no sign of Utah miners

Third drill hole planned.

BY HEATHER MOYER | HUNTINGTON, Utah | August 12, 2007

"The families are remarkably strong. We have prayed with them and we have cried with them."

—Richard Stickler

A camera dropped for a second time into a drill hole where six Crandall Canyon miners were believed trapped showed no sign of the men, officials said Sunday.

Rescuers were planning a third drill hole in an attempt to locate the miners who have been trapped since Monday.

Officials continued to urge hope.

"My attitude is that we always have to have hope," said Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Bob Murray, head of the Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., which owns the mine about 120 miles south of Salt Lake City, said losing hope was a mistake.

"We're proceeding as if the men are alive and will continue until there is proof otherwise," Murray told a Sunday news conference. "There are many ways they could still be alive."

Stickler reiterated Sunday that rescuers were working in extremely difficult conditions due to the mine's remote and rugged location in the Rocky Mountains. Roads had to be created to reach some drilling areas. Bringing in other heavy equipment to drill larger holes could take more than a week.

Air continued to be pumped into a small 2.5-inch drill hole bored earlier from the surface of the mountain into a cavity where the miners were thought to be. At least 60 rescue workers and MSHA officials were at the mine and were working on ways to reach the miners. Teams were in the mine digging through a collapsed area of rubble but were still only one-third of the way through.

Crews finished a second 8 5/8-inch drill hole early Saturday and lowered a camera into it. Stickler said it showed a "survivable space" but did not hear or see any signs of life. When the camera was dropped down a second time, it showed some equipment but not the miners.

The camera was designed to show an area up to 100 feet away but officials said that poor lighting limited its range to about 15 feet.

Stickler, speaking at a Saturday news conference, said the camera showed that the roof of the mine had not collapsed and that there was a five foot void between the roof and the floor in the space the camera was able to view. The hole was drilled into an area 1,886-feet into the mine where rescuers believe the miners were trapped.

Stickler praised the families of the miners, saying they have been through a lot this week.

"The families are remarkably strong," he said. "We have prayed with them and we have cried with them."

Stickler added that rescuers banged on the drill steel to signal the miners when it was still in the second hole, but there was no response.

Late Thursday, rescuers dropped a microphone through the first narrow drill hole and into a chamber, but it failed to detect any sound. Officials later said that the bore hole may have missed its mark. The larger hole that was bored into the mine was about 130 feet from the first hole.

Officials refused to draw conclusions about the lack of signals from the trapped miners after the microphone was dropped in the first bore hole.

Outside the mine, family, friends and the tight-knit central Utah mining community continued to wait anxiously for word on the fate of miners trapped more than 1,500 feet underground.

"Prayer is what they're leaning on right now," said Barbara Lee, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Salt Lake City. "They've kind of turned inward and they've turned to God. They've turned to prayer.

The only thing they have asked for is prayer," she said.

An emergency disaster services team from The Salvation Army set up a canteen at the command center and was serving meals to rescue workers and others.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the mining families and emergency workers,” said spokesman Gordon Franks.

He said the organization would remain on-site as long as it was needed.

In another mine accident, three people were killed Friday while working at the Gibson County coal mine in Princeton in southern Indiana. The men fell to their deaths when a basket they were riding in collapsed. The three were contractors from Frontier-Kemper Contractors of Evansville and were working on a shaft to the mine when they plunged to their deaths. The mine is owned by Alliance Resource Partners of Oklahoma.

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