PAUL FOY Associated Press Writer HUNTINGTON, Utah
The search for six miners missing deep underground was abruptly halted after a second cave-in killed three rescue workers and injured at least six others who were trying to tunnel through rubble to reach them. It was a devastating turn for the families of the six men trapped in the Aug. 6 collapse at the Crandall Canyon mine and for the relatives of those trying to rescue them. It's not known if the trapped miners are alive. "It just feels like a really hard blow to swallow after all we've been through the last week and a half and everyone trying to hope in their own individual way," Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon said in telephone interview today with CNN's "American Morning." All rescue workers were evacuated from the mine Thursday evening and work underground was stopped. Asked if the search would be suspended, "that's something to be determined," said Rich Kulczewski, a U.S. Department of Labor spokesman. The cave-in at 6:39 p.m. was believed to be caused by what seismologists call a "mountain bump," in which shifting ground forces chunks of rock from the walls. Seismologists say such a bump caused the Aug. 6 cave-in that trapped the six men more than 3 miles inside the central Utah mine. The force from the bump registered a 1.6 at the University of Utah seismograph stations in Salt Lake City, said university spokesman Lee Siegel. It was the 20th reading at the university since the original collapse, which registered a 3.9 on Aug. 6. "These events seem to be related to ongoing settling of the rock mass following the main event," Siegel said this morning. "I don't think I'm going too far to say that this mountain is collapsing in slow motion." The initial collapse led to the frenetic effort by rescuers to dig through the mine toward the men and drill narrow holes atop the mountain in an attempt to learn their whereabouts and perhaps drop food and water. It was not immediately clear where the rescuers were working or what they were doing wh e n Th u r s d ay ' s b ump occurred. Underground, rescuers had advanced only 826 feet in nine days. Before Thursday's cave-in, workers still had about 1,200 feet to go to reach the area where they believe the trapped men had been working. Mining officials said conditions in the mine were treacherous, and they were frequently forced to halt digging because of seismic activity.