CRANDALL CANYON MINE, Emery County Miners working to free their six colleagues trapped here expressed confidence today that the men are still alive and that rescue efforts will be a success.
"I firmly believe they are alive right now," said Bodee Allred, a safety supervisor at the mine. "By no means do I think they're enjoying what's going on right now, but I have full faith that they are, in fact, alive and breathing."
Allred, 34, is the cousin of Kerry Allred, 58, whom he confirmed is one of the six men who have been trapped 1,500 feet down in the mine since 2:48 a.m. Monday.
Bodee Allred said he has worked with four of the other trapped men for about 10 years and the sixth man has only been part of the crew for about three weeks.
An official who spoke on the condition of anonymity today identified five of the six trapped miners as Allred; Manuel Sanchez, 41; Louis Hernandez; Carlos Payan; and Don Erickson.
Allred said he knows those miners well, and that's the reason he's confident the men are alive and well.
"I just know the mentality of them," Allred said. "I know they wouldn't quit or give up, and I know they've got what they need."
Allred said he hasn't left the site since the mine collapsed. The 132 miners taking part in the rescue efforts have been working around the clock.
"They're on a 12-hour rotation, and you've almost got to make them leave here," Allred said.
At a tour of the mine arranged by mine owner Bob Murray today, reporters were kept some distance from the rescue operation. Crews were hauling in wood beams and steel posts, preparing to go underground. Most of the miners participating in the rescue efforts were stone-faced, but some fought back tears as they spoke to other rescuers.
Laine Adair, the general manager of UtahAmerican Energy, is leading the underground efforts to rescue the men he describes as "family."
"We're trying to rescue our brothers in that mine," he said. "We're doing the very best we know how, and we definitely know how."
The six trapped miners were in the middle of working a 12-hour shift when the mine shaft they were in collapsed in a seismic event that registered 3.9 on the Richter scale. Ten miners were inside the area at the time, and four managed to escape.
Adair said rescue operations are again moving forward following a major setback Tuesday, in which crews twice had to leave the mine because of continued seismic activity. Crews had progressed 310 feet toward the trapped miners, who are nearly four miles from the entrance, but all of that progress was wiped out.
Most of the seismic activity has quieted, Adair said, allowing crews this morning to begin prepping the mine with steel beams and 8-by-8-inch wood planks to reinforce the roof of the shaft."We're going back in now with additional precautions," Adair said this afternoon. "One of those precautions was time. We gave it almost 24 hours to let the mountain quit acting up. We're back in there now, and we're doing a good job."