Family members of the six miners have been sequestered at Canyon View Junior High. The entire building has now been leased by Murray Energy Corp., and access to the school has been blocked by Emery County Sheriff's deputies and the mining company.
School district business administrator Jared Black said the standard rental agreement for buildings to outside parties has a built-in hourly fee of $20. In this case, the rental agreement for the school is open-ended.Members of the Emery School Board have approved waivers of the rental fees in the past, which is done on a case-by-case basis, Black said.
President Bush calls
This morning, President Bush called Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to express his thoughts on the mining tragedy. He spoke about it at a news conference on the economy at the U.S. Treasury Department.
"I told him the nation's thoughts and prayers are with the miners and their families, and that the federal government will help in any way we can," the president said.
In an interview with the Fox News Channel today, Mr. Bush said coal mining should not be abandoned because it is risky and dangerous.
"It doesn't make any sense to abandon an energy resource of which we have got a bountiful supply if part of our strategy is to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy," he said.
Huntsman is in Huntington again today to meet with mine officials, rescuers and the families of the trapped miners.In Huntington, signs are up around town showing support and solidarity for the missing men and their families. The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City held a Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine tonight for the miners and their families. A candlelight vigil is also scheduled to be held tonight in Huntington at dusk.
Murray insists an earthquake that lasted several minutes caused the mine collapse, and several aftershocks have plagued rescue efforts. However, scientists again said they believe it was the mine collapse that registered a 3.9 on the Richter scale.
"All the data suggests it's a mine collapse," said Rafael Abreu, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.
Speaking to reporters today, Murray again dismissed the scientists' assertion and said he would no longer speak about it.
"From our mining experience, we know this was an earthquake," he said.
The University of Utah Seismograph Stations said it has not ruled out conclusively that an earthquake was not involved but said all of the seismic events appear to be consistent with a mine collapse.
MSHA officials said there will be an "exhaustive" investigation to determine what caused the collapse. On the scene, assistant U.S. Labor Secretary Richard Stickler would not speculate on the cause, or whether so-called "retreat" mining had anything to do with it.
"I assure you, by the end of that investigation, we will have the answer," he said.
Murray Energy has said it was not conducting that type of mining, in which pillars holding up the roof of a mine shaft are pulled and it caves in. The leftover coal is then harvested.
MSHA officials in Washington, D.C., confirmed to the Deseret Morning News that the Crandall Canyon Mine had been conducting retreat mining. A plan filed by the mine was approved by federal authorities, said MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere."What we have emphasized is that as long as the roof control plan is followed, it can be a very safe method for mining," she said.
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