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Fighting the clock at Quecreek Mine

Saturday, July 27, 2002

By the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wednesday

(some times are approximate)

8:50 p.m. -- Miners inside the Quecreek Mine dig through the wall of abandoned Saxman No. 2 mine, and 50 million to 60 million gallons of groundwater begin pouring into Quecreek.

9 p.m. -- Members from a team of nine miners a mile inside Quecreek use a mine phone to alert another team of nine miners to evacuate.

9:30 p.m. -- The second team, the miners alerted by phone, leaves the mine.

9:53 p.m. -- Aware that one team is not out, mine officials call 911 with a report of miners suffering water-related injuries.

11:30 to midnight -- The call goes out to find a large drill, big enough for a hole to raise men from the mine. One subsequently is located in Clarksburg, W.Va.

Thursday

Midnight -- Workers start boring a 6-inch hole to where the miners are trapped.

3:30 a.m. -- The drill reaches the area where the miners are. Rescuers hear banging on the drill that they say are signals from miners.

11:30 a.m. -- The last signals are heard, although rescuers say other signals might have been covered by the roar of machinery.

2:30 p.m. -- The large drill arrives.

7:30 p.m. -- Rescuers begin drilling a 30-inch-wide hole through which rescuers hope to drop a basket and rescue miners.

8 p.m. -- The frantic effort to pump water from Quecreek seems to be succeeding, with officials reporting that the water level is dropping.

Yesterday

1:50 a.m. -- The drill bit breaks about 105 feet down, and crews can't retrieve it from the hole.

11:10 a.m. -- Digging of a second shaft begins with other equipment placed about 75 feet from the first shaft.

4:45 p.m. -- After an afternoon of conflicting and erroneous reports about efforts to remove the broken drill bit, state officials confirm that it has been successfully extracted from the first shaft. At some point, drilling is halted on the second shaft.

6:15 p.m. -- State officials say drilling is about to resume on both shafts.

8 p.m. -- Drilling resumes on both shafts.

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