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Fighting the clock at Quecreek Mine

Sunday, July 28, 2002


(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.


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.


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.

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.

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


6:15 a.m. -- Gov. Mark Schweicker tells relatives of the miners that drillers have broken through a tough strata of limestone and have made "significant progress."

2:54 p.m. -- As rescuers continue drilling two shafts -- one for backup -- a stabilizer breaks and one of the drills is stopped 195 feet into the earth, 45 feet above the flooded shaft.

6:30 p.m. -- The effort to pump water shows the water level has dropped to 1,831 feet above sea level. That's 1 1/2 feet above where rescue officials want it before beginning the rescue. But even with pumps working at various locations, the level of decrease has slowed.

8:20 p.m. -- Drilling in the main shaft is halted to replace a seal. It resumes 37 minutes later with 15 feet to go to the miners' chamber.

10:15 p.m. -- Workers drill into the mine and prepare to send in a rescue capsule containing food and a telephone. Contact with trapped miners occurs shortly thereafter.


12: 50 a.m. -- First miner, 43-year-old Randall Fogle of Garrett, brought to surface. He appears wet and covered in dirt.

1:15 a.m. -- A second miner, Harry Blaine Mayhugh of Meyersdale, rides to the surface in the rescue capsule.

1:30 a.m. -- Thomas Foy, 52, of Berlin, becomes the third miner rescued.

2:44 a.m. -- The last miner, Mark Popernack, 41, of Somerset, is brought to the surface.

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