Tragedy upon tragedy at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington Canyon as three rescuers die
|Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor fields questions at the Friday morning press conference.|
The conditions at the Crandall Canyon Coal Mine in Huntington Canyon have rapidly deteriorated from bad to worse. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 another episode of seismic activity took place causing the right rib to explode into the main entry where rescue teams were nearing a shift change. Nine rescuers were injured three of them fatally. The injured workers were taken to the Castleview Hospital. Where one died from injuries shortly after their arrival. Life Flight took one of the miners to the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. Three were treated and released from Castleview Hospital. The others remain hospitalized. One of the fatalities was listed as a Huntington man and one was an MSHA employee.
The mine was evacuated as soon as the injured workers were taken out of the mine. Rescue attempts have stalled at this point in time on Friday and the fate of the six miners still trapped underground is unknown.
Meetings with the newly injured miners families and the original trapped miners families have been held to keep the families up to date on the latest developments.
There has been no word on when the rescue operations will continue, although the fourth bore hole is still being drilled. Rescue workers were reported to have been given some time off while the situation as the mine is re-evaluated.
A press conference was held on Fri., Aug. 17 at the bottom of the mine road and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman spoke to reporters. "I wish to express, love, sympathy and condolences to the loved ones of those who lost their lives. These men died as heroes. There is no better way to express your love for a fellow human being than to give your life for them. The best way to honor their lives is to stay strong, focused and unified as we continue this rescue operation.
"In recognition of these three heroes, I am requesting the flags of this state to be lowered to half staff," said Gov. Huntsman.
The governor said everything possible will be done. The state will partner with MSHA. Everyone has questions and the answers to these questions will be found. "We will make sure their lives are not lost in vain.
"This week and a half has been filled with pain. We must become better, smarter and safer with the focus first and foremost on the workers safety; this must drive everything else. I have been inspired and humbled by the solidarity and the inspiration of all following this situation. Whatever happens, let us ensure we have no more injuries. Whatever is done above or below, safety is of paramount concern and importance.
|Utah Governor Jon Huntsman speaks at the press conference on Friday morning, the morning after the tragic accident which left three rescuers dead. Gov. Huntsman expresses the love of all Utahns and said the men died as heroes.|
"Our state has suffered," said Gov. Huntsman.
Richard Stickler, the assistant secretary of labor, MSHA, said, "At approximately 6:30 p.m. a tragic accident was the result of a mountain bump which dislodged 30 feet of the right rib wall. This blasted across the entry with a force that destroyed the ground support. Three were fatally injured and three continue to be hospitalized. MSHA had two personnel injuries; one was fatal and one serious.
"Our prayers are with the miners and their families and our deepest condolences go out to the miners families. Underground rescue efforts have been suspended indefinitely, we put in the strongest ground support recommended by ground control experts. The plan was developed and implemented to provide maximum safety, but this obviously was not adequate."
Stickler described the horizontal loads were created by vertical loads. They were under an area where the cover is at depths of 2,000 feet. The force of the outburst created the horizontal forces that when released was like an explosion which propelled the materials used to control the sides across the entry and up against the opposite rib. These materials included the water jacks, chain link fencing, wire ropes and all materials used to support the ribs. The rescue workers had just completed the ground control when the seismic activity occurred.
A group of ground control experts will be brought onsite to see if there is any possible way the rescue can safely proceed.
The fourth bore hole was down 600 feet at the time of the press conference. "We hope to find the miners alive with this fourth bore hole. With this hole we can keep them alive until we can start drilling a larger hole, large enought to put a capsule into the hole and bring the men out that way. We will continue to pump air through the holes we already have in place and will monitor the air quality. The efforts of these rescue miners has just been heroic. They worked and gave tremendous efforts to get the injured, buried miners out," said Stickler.
Rob Moore, vice president of Murray Energy said their thoughts and prayers are with the families of the miners. The focus of the company is still on the rescue of the trapped six miners. "Those injured and those who died made the ultimate sacrifice to reach the trapped miners, people who they know and love," said Moore.