August 10, 2007 in Nation/World

Drill reaches pocket, but no sounds heard

Pauline Arrillaga Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Murray Energy Corp. Chairman Robert Murray answers questions at the Crandall Canyon command post Thursday. A drill has reached the area where the miners are believed to be.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

HUNTINGTON, Utah – Rescuers drilled through to a pocket in the coal mine where six miners have been trapped, but heard no sound through a microphone that was lowered into the collapsed mine.

The mine’s co-owner remained hopeful that the six men were still alive despite the silence.

“I wouldn’t look at it as good or bad news. The work is not done,” said Robert Murray, chairman of Murray Energy Corp.

“We broke through. We have some developments we want to talk about,” attorney Christopher Van Bever said without elaborating.

The 2 1/2 -inch hole is a crucial passage for the first possible contact with the men since a collapse sealed them 1,500 feet below ground early Monday at the Crandall Canyon mine in central Utah.

A bigger drill boring a nearly 9-inch-wide hole – wide enough to accommodate food and water – was also moving toward the men’s presumed location, but remained many hours from the target.

The six miners have not been heard from since Monday morning’s earthshaking collapse.

Rob Moore, vice president of Murray Energy Corp., said that a motor broke on the larger drill during the day and was replaced.

With the small drill at the miners’ depth, officials had said it would take two hours to withdraw the drill and lower a two-way communications device.

A simple downward-pointing camera with limited visual range will also be lowered.

The larger hole will be used to lower a more powerful camera and could also deliver provisions to the men if they are alive.

An effort to clear rubble from a horizontal shaft to actually reach the miners was also going slowly, Moore said.

“It’s incredibly labor-intensive,” he said.

The plan was to lower down the hole a device that would listen for the miners, who were trained to bang on roof bolts if they heard a drill.

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