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2002-07-26

Nine Coal Miners Are Trapped in a Shaft After They Rupture a Nearby Abandoned Mine

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Nine coal miners have been trapped for almost 36 hours 240 feet below the surface of a Pennsylvania mine. Officials do not know how many men might still be alive.

Encouraged by a tinny tapping sound coming from the depths, rescuers began drilling an escape hole in a race to save nine coal miners. But early Friday morning the attempt to rescue the miners came to a stop when the drill bit broke.

It appears the miners were trapped after drilling into the wall of a flooded and abandoned mine next to them, releasing more than 50 million gallons of water into the shaft where they were working.

Coal miners work under some of the harshest and most dangerous conditions. Since the year 2000, 80 people have died in the coal mines. Between 1990-1999, close to five hundred people died. In the first decade of the 20th century, over 21,000 people died. This according to the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

These workers trapped now are not unionized. They work for Black Wolf Coal Company.

Guests:

  • Jim LaMont, state health and safety director for the United Mine Workers of America. He was an underground mine worker for 23 years.
  • James Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" as well as "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong."

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