79. Six Feet Under

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Six coal miners in Utah were trapped 1,500 feet underground when the support beams collapsed. Digging was immediately started in an effort to rescue the six. Five volunteer miners risked their lives to descend down to the location of the cave-in. A day later, another cave-in occurred, killing three of the five would-be rescuers. All five were pulled out of the mine.

The government banned any further attempts at rescue by men. Instead, machines would be used to burrow into the ground. Listening devices would be able to detect any human activity, and probes would be able to detect the amount of oxygen present. Even though most people figured that the original six had died almost immediately, five more holes were dug during the next two weeks in an effort to find, and deliver food and water to, survivors. This effort was made more difficult because searchers did not know the exact location of the original cave-in.

After the fourth, fifth, and sixth digs had produced no positive results, the owner of the mine said that was it. Enough was enough. He had done all he could do, and after two weeks of no food and water, it was impossible that anyone could still be alive. The families of the six miners were outraged, telling the media that the owner had given only lip service to rescue attempts. They planned to sue.


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