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 Post subject: 2 Australian Miners Freed After 2 Weeks
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 4:29 pm 
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2 Australian Miners Freed After 2 Weeks

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060508/ap_ ... ped_miners

By RICK RYCROFT, Associated Press Writer 20 minutes ago

Two Australian gold miners trapped for two weeks 3,000 feet underground walked unaided out of the mine early Tuesday, freed by rescue teams drilling round-the-clock by hand through hard rock.

After initial medical tests underground, Brant Webb, 37, and Todd Russell, 34, strode purposefully from the mine's main lift shaft. They hugged family and friends before clambering into two ambulances, still laughing and joking with friends.

Webb and Russell were buried after a small earthquake April 25 trapped the safety cage they were working in under tons of rock in the Beaconsfield Gold Mine. Miner Larry Knight, 44, was killed. The rescue came hours before Knight's family planned to hold his funeral.

For 300 hours, the two miners huddled in the 4-foot-tall cage, too short to stand up in, until rescuers broke through the last crust of hard rock to reach them. Mine manager Matthew Gill said the men were in good health.

Teams of specialist miners bored through more than 45 feet of rock over the past week with a giant drilling machine to reach the men. Cutting the final sections of the escape tunnel was been slow and difficult, as the men used hand tools to avoid causing a cave-in.

The rescue ends a drama that riveted the nation, with TV crews camped in the mine parking lot, and residents of the close-knit community waiting anxiously at the mine gates to welcome the two men, now considered heroes.

Television networks cut live to the news that the men were saved. A fire engine drove through Beaconsfield, a town in the southern state of Tasmania, its siren wailing to alert the local residents to the news.

A church bell not used since the end of World War II rang out in celebration.

"The great escape is over," union official Bill Shorten told Nine Network television. "A giant rock of pressure has been taken off these families."

Seventeen men were working the night shift when the magnitude 2.1 quake sent tremors through the century-old mine. Fourteen men made it safely to the surface. But Webb, Russell and Knight had been working deep in the belly of the mine repairing a tunnel.

Webb and Russell survived because a huge slab of rock landed on the 16-square-foot cage, forming a roof that kept them from being crushed. For five days they lived on a single cereal bar and water they licked from rocks, until rescue crews with thermal heat sensors detected them April 30.

The rescue team forced a narrow pipe through a hole drilled through the rock and pushed through supplies including water, vitamins and fresh clothing.

Comforts such as iPods, an inflatable mattress, egg and chicken sandwiches and even ice pops followed.

Late Monday, mining officials said rescuers had completed the horizontal section of the tunnel and had drilled narrow probes up through a rock crust to confirm they were directly below the cavity where Webb and Russell were waiting.

They next had to tunnel vertically thought about 3 feet of hard rock and debris — the most delicate and frustrating part of the operation.

Drilling through 12 inches of hard rock at the end took longer than expected, as miners worked one at a time on their backs in the tunnel, wielding hand-held pneumatic drills, diamond-tipped chain saws and jackhammers as heavy as 88 pounds.

The rest of the crust was compacted debris, easier to cut through.

Throughout the rescue, the good spirits of the miners, both married with three children, amazed those struggling to reach them.

One man asked for a newspaper so he could start scanning the classifieds for another job. Another said that once freed, he wants the ambulance to stop at McDonald's on the way to the hospital.

But the mood in the town had become increasingly somber as the rescue dragged on.

Officials had hoped the men would be freed early Saturday, and hundreds of residents gathered at the mine gates to welcome the men. Celebrations turned to frustration as the hours passed.

Little had been seen of the miners' families since the initial news of their survival. TV networks and newspapers were rumored to have paid substantial sums for exclusive rights to interview the men and their relatives once they were rescued.

Knight's family planned to hold his funeral Tuesday in the nearby town of Launceston. They had delayed the service, hoping the trapped miners would be able to attend.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:22 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2005 11:12 am
Posts: 385
Greg,

Yeah I was following the story and I'm glad that you were to. Sucks that this type of thing has to happen. I'm very happy that Webb and Russell made it out alive and very sorry that Knight didn't. Stuff like this really makes you think and makes you think even more about your friends and family that surround you each and everyday. I know that I'm most thankful for my family and all of my friends. My life just wouldn't be the same without all my mine researching buddies :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 11:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 11:33 pm
Posts: 3088
Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
Yeah, these things are really ashame when they happen. While hard rock mines are the most stable, they are much deeper. In a coal mine where you are usually only a few hundered feet underground, they can more easily drill another exit for a trapper miner. Hard Rock and deep mines are a lot harder with this kind of closure, as you are soo far underground below the surface. You have to reopen your main shafts..

Greg


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