PAUL FOY Associated Press Writer HUNTINGTON, Utah
Rescuers struggled early today to reach six miners who were believed to be 1,500 feet underground when a massive collapse struck a remote coal mine a day earlier. With no way to know whether the six were alive, crews worked through the night in shifts. Workers in hard hats came and went along a road leading to the Crandall Canyon mine in a forested canyon among mountains. Dozens of trucks and cars headed in near dawn. “Right now I can’t say if it’s looking any better,” said one weary miner, Leland Lobato, as he ended an eight-hour shift. The miners were believed to have been in a chamber 3.4 miles inside the mine when it collapsed about 4 a.m. Monday. Rescuers were able to reach a point about 1,700 feet from that location before being blocked by debris. Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said at least 100 people were working on the rescue effort today morning. The sheriff said he expected the company to begin bulldozing a road needed to bring in a drilling rig. Robert E. Murray, chairman of Murray Energy Corp. of Cleveland, a part owner of the Crandall Canyon mine, said Monday that the rig could punch holes in the mine to improve ventilation and determine if the miners survived the collapse. “I know that Mr. Murray is committed to doing whatever they need to do until they recover them alive or otherwise,” the sheriff said. City Councilwoman Julie Jones said Murray planned to give the six miners’ families a personal update at a junior high school early today. She said the community was coordinating meals for the families, and that she and others were encouraging people to pray. “My son’s a coal miner (at Crandall) and I know they are going in their sections and digging out as much as they can,” Jones said. “The community has been through this before so we just have to hope for the best.” The sheriff said 90 percent of the community is tied to coal mining or energy production. “This affects everybody, not just six families,” he said. Little was known about the six miners. Only one has been identified, but Mexico’s consul in Salt Lake City, Salvador Jimenez, said today that three of the men are Mexican citizens. Jimenez said, however, that he did not know any details about the men, including whether they are U.S. residents, their ages or hometowns.