Families discouraged as new hole finds nothing but debris in mine | PostIndependent.com

Families discouraged as new hole finds nothing but debris in mine

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) ” The families of six men trapped inside a Utah coal mine for 26 days appear to be moving toward accepting that their loved ones will not be found alive, a lawyer said Friday.

Hole No. 7 drilled more than 1,800 feet through a mountain and into the Crandall Canyon mine Thursday found nearly 7 feet of debris.

The drill bit emerged in an area called the “kitchen,” where miners are trained to seek refuge during a collapse.

“It was very discouraging to them to hear about the kitchen area being filled with rubble,” said Colin King, a lawyer and spokesman for the families.

“I think they’re moving closer and closer to accepting the likelihood that they won’t find anyone alive,” he said.

A thunderous mountain shudder in the early hours of Aug. 6 caused mine ribs to implode, trapping Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Manuel Sanchez.

It is not known if they are dead or alive. Three rescuers working underground were killed in a second collapse Aug. 16, another disaster that has foreclosed a separate way to reach the miners.

Safety officials next were turning to hole No. 4 late Thursday as a passage to get a robotic camera into the mine, despite a 90 percent chance that they would lose the camera, said Rich Kulczewski, spokesman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Families were expected to get an update Friday at 5 p.m. MDT.

“We haven’t given up, but we’re running out of possibilities,” Kulczewski said Thursday.

The $100,000 camera, similar to one used at New York’s World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, became stuck in a hole earlier this week, just 10 feet from inside the mine. Other cameras have produced grainy video and only a limited view of mine conditions.

“They still want to see what the camera will say,” King said of the families. “They still want to find them and see what we can do about getting them out of there.”

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