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Monday, January 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Rescuers still advancing at Lucky Friday mine

Rescuers advanced another 2 feet through rubble in a tunnel at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, according to the mine owner’s latest update.

“In the last 12 hours we have achieved an additional 4 feet of timbered ground support for a total of approximately 36 feet, and advanced an additional 2 feet for a total of approximately 39 feet from the beginning of where the fall of ground occurred,” Hecla Mining Co. said in a press release this afternoon.

Hecla doesn’t know how long the pile of rubble extends, or whether miner Larry “Pete” Marek is still alive. The company hasn’t had any communication with Marek since the collapse on Friday at about 5:30 p.m.

Hecla said it also will attempt to drill a 2-inch hole to the section near the end of the tunnel where Marek was working to see if there is open space behind the rubble pile, and to potentially pump air into that space. The company’s latest update didn’t specify whether that work had begun.

Rescue teams are working 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts.

Another miner, Marek’s brother, escaped when rock fell in a section that’s 6150 feet underground.

Leo Marek, Larry Marek’s father, said today that Hecla officials had told him they didn’t know if they’d reach Larry today.

Marek and his brother had just finished watering down blasted-out rock and ore on existing mining areas when the collapse occurred.

Hecla said all mining activity has been halted for the rescue effort. Officials said they will focus on how the collapse occurred once the rescue is complete.

The mine employs roughly 275 workers, about 50 of whom were underground in various parts of the mine when the collapse occurred, company spokeswoman Melanie Hennessey said.

Marek worked for Hecla for 12 years, and has more than 30 years total experience in the mining industry, according to a company press release.

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