Mine VP: Hope is fading for miners

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Jan 3, 2006
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HUNTINGTON, Utah (CNN) -- After a fourth hole drilled into part of a Utah mine yielded no sign of six trapped miners, a rescue leader said hope is waning.

"It's likely that these miners may not be found," Rob Moore, vice president of mine operator Murray Energy, said Sunday.

The miners were trapped in a collapse in the early hours of August 6 -- nearly two weeks ago.

But rescuers are not giving up. They are working on a fifth hole.

"We are attempting to locate these miners," Moore said.

On Thursday, three rescuers were killed and several injured after a seismic "mountain bump" collapsed part of the mine.

The underground rescue operation has been "suspended indefinitely," in the wake of the rescue worker deaths, Stickler said. A panel of experts will review operations to determine if there is any way the underground rescue effort could resume, he said.

The Emery County Sheriff's Office identified the three rescuers who died as Gary Jensen, Brandon Kimber and Dale Ray Black.

Moore and Richard Stickler, director of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, said it's still too dangerous to send rescuers back underground, so only the above-ground work continues.

The latest hole pierced the mine Saturday morning. Crews attempted another sound test by signaling the miners by making a noise with the drill and by setting off three rounds of explosive charges, followed by a quiet period to listen for any response.

"We did not detect any signals from the miners underground," Stickler said afterward.

The fifth hole will be drilled, Stickler said, in another effort to communicate with the trapped six.

Only two of the injured miners who were acting as rescuers remained hospitalized Saturday.

One, who underwent surgery for facial fractures Friday at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, was upgraded to fair condition and was recovering well, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Another was being treated for "non-life-threatening" injuries at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City, where a spokesman said he would remain through the weekend.

A rescuer taken to Castleview Hospital in Price was discharged Saturday, officials said.

Flags in Utah were at half-staff Saturday to honor the rescuers who died.

Stickler told reporters he did not believe the time had come to give up.

"People have survived extended periods of time without food," he said. "We have the food, the water, everything available that we can deliver to the miners as soon as we find them alive."

No sound has been heard from the miners during the previous attempts to contact them, and video cameras have found no sign of them.



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