Miners released after close to 14 hours underground

11:23 PM, Jun 20, 2011   |    comments
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According to a release, the three miners who were trapped below the entrance to a Bell County, KY coal mine were brought to the surface close to 8:22 p.m. 

Officials with the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Energy and Environment Cabinet said Parnell Witherspoon, Doug Warren and Russell Asher have been trapped since just before 7:00 a.m. on Monday. 

Workers were able to pump the water down allowing the workers to walk out of the mine. 

According to mine officials, this is the first time the mine has flooded.

Officials told 10News the plant has been shut down indefinitely. 

The three were taken to Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital to be evaluated and to see their families. 

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It will likely be very late Monday night or early Tuesday morning before three miners trapped by flood waters are freed.

The workers at the James River Coal Company's Jellico #1 Mine in Bell County were cut off by rising waters around 6:40 am.

At a press conference in Middlesboro, officials said no more water was getting into the mine.  There are six pumps pumping out 3000 gallons of water per minute. The water is dropping at a rate of an inch every 15 minutes.  Forty to fifty rescue workers are on the scene.

Officials said this is the first time this mine has flooded.

The miners are in a high point of the mine that is not flooded.  They have access to food, water, and an emergency shelter.  They have also been able to talk to mine officials and their families over the phone.

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According to the Associated Press, state officials have released the names of the three miners who have been trapped for hours in a flooded southeastern Kentucky mine. 

The miners were identified Monday as Parnell Witherspoon, Doug Warren and Russell Asher.

Officials on the scene would not confirm those names.

Dick Brown, spokesman for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, said he did not yet have the men's ages or hometowns.

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A spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration says crews are pumping 1,100 gallons of water per minute from a mine where three Kentucky coal miners have been trapped for hours.

Amy Louviere says none of the miners were harmed Monday and they have moved to dry ground within the mine, owned by Richmond, Va.-based James River Coal and operated by Bell County Coal. She says they have been in continuous contact with officials on the surface.

Their families have gathered in Middlesboro near the mine site where they are being briefed on the conditions of the miners.

The miners became trapped in the southeastern Kentucky mine when a portion of the entrance collapsed about 6:40 a.m. EDT and water began pouring in from a drainage ditch swollen with heavy overnight rains.

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Three miners are trapped by high waters in a Bell County, Kentucky mine.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor told 10News the miners were trapped around 6:40 am on Monday by an inundation of water. The surrounding area had experienced heavy rainfall, causing storm runoff to enter the underground coal mine.

They were working at James River Coal Company's Jellico #1 Mine in Bell County. The mine is located off Highway 74 outside of Middlesboro.

Mining officials are in continuous communication by phone with the trapped miners, who have traveled to a dry area at a higher elevation.  None of them are hurt. 

Rescuers are using four pumps to remove the water from the mine at this time so they can get to the stranded workers.

10News has a crew on the way to the scene and will have more information as it becomes available.

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