The Coal Miners

As of 7:22 PM tonight, 13 coal miners remain trapped 260 feet below ground. It’s been 12 hours since an explosion blocked the exit, keeping the miners from escaping, and preventing rescuers from reaching them.

There’s no word on their condition. I can’t even imagine what the families must be going through right now.

The condition of the miners was not immediately known. Four co-workers tried to reach them but were stopped by a wall of debris, and the blast knocked out the mine’s communication equipment, preventing authorities from contacting the miners.

It was not known how much air they had or how big a space they were in. The miners had air-purifying equipment but no oxygen tanks, a co-worker said.

“You just have to hope that the explosions weren’t of the magnitude that was horrific from the beginning,” Joe Manchin, governor of the nation’s No. 2 coal-producing state, told CNN. He added: “There’s always that hope and chance that they were able to go to part of the mine that still had safe air.”

I have a feeling we won’t be celebrating a miraculous rescue this time.

UPDATE: It doesn’t look good.

A mining company executive said officials are “very discouraged” by air quality tests in the mine where 13 workers are trapped, and planned to drill a third hole to take additional air samples.

Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer of mine owner International Coal Group Inc. said tests found that carbon monoxide levels far exceed federal regulatory limits in the Sago Mine 24 hours after an explosion.

Hatfield made the comments after rescuers trying to reach the trapped miners successfully punched a hole into the mine early Tuesday. A camera was inserted into the 6 1/4 inch hole to look for signs of life.

Drilling crews pounded on steel pipe and listened for a response in the section of the mine where the trapped miners were believed to be located, Hatfield said.

Earlier tests showed carbon monoxide levels measured 1,300 parts per million, exceeding the 400 parts per million maximum safe level.

More from the WaPo.

Still More – Efforts to Find Miners Become Desperate

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