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Drilling is Halfway to Trapped Miners

Drilling is Halfway to Trapped Miners

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VIDEO: Robert Murray Wednesday Evening Press Conference, Click HereSam Penrod Reporting

As the hours go by, people in Emery County hold onto hope that six miners who've been out of contact for two and a half days are alive and waiting to be rescued.

We've watched for a third day as more equipment and supplies pour in to the mine. There is some progress in the drilling of a small hole to get air and communication to the miners, it is halfway there now. Unlike Tuesday, there were no major setbacks in the rescue attempt on Wednesday.

There was a sense of hope and urgency just outside of the Crandall Canyon mine, as rescue teams attempted to reach six miners trapped inside. For those who work at the mine, they personally know the miners they are trying to rescue.

Bodee Allred's cousin is one of the trapped miners. He told us, "I firmly believe they are alive right now. By no means do I think they are enjoying what's going on right now with them, but have full faith that they are in there alive and breathing."

Efforts continue to create a safe pathway, using steel beams, timber and fence, so rescue teams can safely remove debris. Mine company President Robert Murray escorted two families members of the trapped miners so they could see for themselves what is going on.

Murray said, "I can tell you they gave an outstanding report to the families, that I know went a long way to give them some confidence that everything humanly possible is being and has been done to rescue these miners."

The drilling of two holes down 1500 feet - into the area where the miners are believed to be trapped - got underway today, which should give some indication about if the miners are still alive.

Rob Moore, with Murray Energy Corporation, said, "Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, with no interruptions, within 24 to 48 hours we will intersect the cavities."

While the logistics of the rescue continue, the governor emphasizes the human toll from this crisis. "It shouldn't be lost on anybody that there are real people in this mine right up the hill, and I don't think that's lost on anyone that there are real people down this road who are the family the friends and the loved ones," he said.

The high-tech seismic listening equipment has arrived, but so far there are questions on how effective it will be because of the seismic activity in the mine. They would have to stop the drilling to try it and see if they can hear any signs of life from the miners.

Inside the mine, movement has kept miners from being inside and building a tunnel using steel, timber and chain link fence to create a safe pathway to the trapped miners. Murray said, "The rescue activities will start again as soon as seismic activity has stopped to the point that we know it is perfectly safe. As reported earlier, we are reasonably sure that has already occurred, and we're preparing to move men underground."

More federal help continues to arrive from across the country. They are all experts in dealing with a mine crisis like this.

Even President Bush has called Governor Jon Huntsman to offer support to the state and to the rescue effort.

We may finally get some answers on the fate of the miners by Thursday night if the drilling is successful and stays on schedule. Still, we are told it will take at least a week to actually get to the miners from the inside of the mine, so any kind of a resolution here is still some time away.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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