A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

"May God bless those who are trapped below the earth"

Please keep these trapped miners, their families, and the rescuers in your prayers this evening.

AP: Efforts to Find Miners Become Desperate---

TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. - Rescuers pushed deeper into a mine shaft in a desperate search for 13 trapped coal miners Tuesday, but the prospects of finding anyone alive appeared bleak after holes drilled into the ground yielded deadly levels of carbon monoxide and no signs of life.

"With each hour that passes, the likelihood of a successful outcome diminishes," said Ben Hatfield, chief executive of mine owner International Coal Group Inc.

By early evening, Hatfield said, rescuers were three to five hours from reaching the spot where the miners were thought to be.

"We are clearly in the situation where we need a miracle," he said. "But miracles happen."

The men, trapped 260 feet down by an explosion Monday morning in the Sago Mine, were believed to be about 12,000 feet past the opening of the shaft. By early evening, about 35 hours after the blast, rescue teams had penetrated 11,400 feet, working their way on foot for fear machinery might cause volatile gases to explode.

The company told families that a powerful explosion had rocked the mine, based on damage near where the miners may be trapped, said Rick McGee, who works at the mine with his brother-in-law, Randal McCloy, who is among those trapped.

Cinderblock walls meant to direct the flow of air inside the mine were knocked down by the blast, McGee said.

Given the new information, McGee said, "There's a chance, not a great chance, but there is still a chance" that the miners could still be alive if they were able to barricade themselves.

President Bush said the nation was praying for the men, and he offered federal help to bring them out alive. "May God bless those who are trapped below the earth," he said.

Earlier in the day, rescuers drilled narrow holes into the mine, inserted air monitors and found levels of carbon monoxide more than three times the maximum regarded as safe. Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of combustion, can be lethal.

Hatfield said it was possible the miners barricaded themselves somewhere and were still alive. But he said: "We are very discouraged by the results of this test."