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Three Rescue Workers Die at Utah Mine

A rescue effort for six trapped miners at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah took a tragic turn Thursday when three workers were killed. A reporter who has been covering the story provides an update.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    Rescue workers were clearing an underground passage toward six trapped miners last night when the collapse occurred at 6:39 p.m. local time. Three were killed and six injured.

    Around the same time, University of Utah seismologists recorded what's called a "mountain bump." The bump, or small quake, registered 1.6 on the Richter scale. About 20 such events have occurred around the mine since the initial collapse 11 days ago.

    The rescuers had advanced about 800 feet towards the trapped miners before last night's collapse. At the time, they were working 2,000 feet below the mountain's surface. They were still some 1,200 feet away from the area where the six trapped miners are thought to be.

    A federal mine official said the pressure of so much earth and rock above the tunnel and its support structure triggered the collapse.

    RICHARD STICKLER, Mine Safety and Health Administration: That vertical load creates forces that are horizontal within the pillars. And when that energy gets released, it's like an explosion. And last night, the right rib exploded off of the coal pillar with tremendous force, removed — it knocked out all of the ground support we had in place.