Utah Miners R.I.P.
Company Seals Collapsed Mine, Entombs Six Trapped Workers
The Utah mine where six workers were entombed after a thunderous collapse has been sealed, leaving expensive mining machinery inside, federal regulators said Tuesday.
Richard Gates, the lead investigator for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, made the disclosure in a briefing for a state commission that is looking into whether Utah should return to the business of regulating coal mines after a 20-year hiatus.
Kevin Stricklin, MSHA's administrator for coal-mine safety, said Cleveland-based Murray Energy Corp. sealed the mine's three main passageways with walls of concrete block in early October.
He said the decision did not represent any loss of hope for recovering the men's bodies, although that appears to remain a distant possibility. Families of the six dead miners were notified. The walls can be removed if there's a new effort to recover the bodies, Stricklin said.
The miners were trapped in a cave-in Aug. 6. Ten days later, another collapse killed three people and injured six others trying to dig their way toward the trapped men.