Rescuers Drill in Cavern of Trapped Mine Workers
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Jeff Brady had been monitoring the rescue efforts all this week. He joins us now from Huntington, Utah, which is not far from the mine. And Jeff, that must have been quite a moment when rescue crews broke through last night with that drill.
JEFF BRADY: Here's what the owner of the mine, Bob Murray, said at a press conference early this morning.
ROBERT MURRAY: I wish I could tell you tonight that we had noise from the microphone, but we don't. And I would not draw any conclusions from that whatsoever. That's just the first step in rescuing these miners.
BRADY: Murray says he met with the families of the miners to tell them what had happened and to encourage them also not to give up hope. But he says the mood in that room was pretty subdued.
MONTAGNE: And as we just said, the owner, Bob Murray, said if the men survived the initial collapse, they should still be able to have survived.
BRADY: Yeah, and with that microphone they also sent down a probe to test the air in that cavern. And Murray says the air is good in there. It's good enough to support human life. And so he says if they did survive that, they should still be alive down there.
MONTAGNE: And if they are, as everyone hopes, do we know about the conditions they might be enduring?
BRADY: It's difficult to say how much food and water they have, though. Federal safety regulations require there to be rations kind of stored around the mine. It's just not clear if the area that they are in is one of those areas where food and water were stored.
MONTAGNE: And a second bigger hole is also being drilled. What would that be for?
BRADY: It's eight and a half inches wide, and it'll allow crews to send down a camera and a light to look around the cavern. That'll provide some more information on what's going on down there. And if they do find the miners alive there, then, with that larger hole, it'll make it easier to send down supplies.
MONTAGNE: You know, the debate over what caused the mine collapse does go on. The owner of the mine says it was an earthquake. He's adamant about that. Others suggest some of the mining techniques that he would have been responsible for could have been a factor. Any idea how long before we'll know what's right?
BRADY: The federal regulators, they're going to start an investigation, but not until the rescue effort is over. And even after they start their investigation, it will be another couple of months before their report is released.
MONTAGNE: Jeff, thanks.
BRADY: Thank you.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Jeff Brady, who's covering efforts to rescue six coal miners trapped in a mine in Central Utah. You can learn about some of the most promising advances in robotic mining and rescue technology at Web site, npr.org.
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