HUNTINGTON, Utah – Rescuers will be sent inside an unstable coal mine in which six men are missing only if there is an indication that someone is alive, but the trapped miners are likely entombed in the mountain, an official said Monday.
“I don’t know whether the miners will be found, but I’m not optimistic they will be found alive,” said Bob Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., co-owner of the mine.
Murray said he told the families their loved ones would likely remain buried in the mine. “Their reception to me was probably not good.
“But at some time, the reality must sink in, and I did it as compassionately as I possibly could,” he said.
Safety consultants brought in since the Aug. 6 collapse have determined that the mountain mine is still shaking and shifting, said Richard Stickler, head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
There are no plans to continue tunneling underground into the mine, he said.
Three rescue workers were killed and six injured last week when the shaft they were working in collapsed because the mountain shifted.
“The significant risk is unacceptable to send mine rescue teams underground 1,500, 1,600 feet for the purpose of exploration,” Stickler said.