Hopes dim for 3 miners. Cage resurfaces empty; it will take 20 hours for workers to pump out flooded floors

[UPDATE:  OTTAWA, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — The body of a third miner missing in a flooded gold mine in Canada’s Quebec province since Friday has been recovered, authorities announced Tuesday. The bodies of the other two missing miners were found Monday.

The three miners descended into the mine on Friday night to do repair work. While they were underground, the shaft was unexpectedly flooded with water.

When their elevator was pulled back up later that night, the emergency latch was open and the men were not inside.

Rescue workers installed pumps to get the water out but still it was too late to save the men’s lives.

All operations have now been suspended in the Menator Resources’ Bachelor Lake facility, about 500 kilometers northwest of Quebec City.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.]

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http://english.sina.com/world/2009/1103/282577.html

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Emergency workers started the painstaking 20-hour process of pumping out the bottom levels of a mine shaft in search of three miners who went missing late Friday night in Desmaraisville in the James Bay region. But chances of finding the missing miners alive were slim last night. They were working to restore the abandoned Bachelor Lake gold mine, owned by Metanor Resources, about 600 kilometres north of Montreal.

La Farre resident Bruno Goulet, 36, Amos resident Dominico Bollini, 44, both Metanor employees, and Marc Guay, 31, an Amos resident and an employee of the mining contracting company Montali, were working to align the walls of the mine shaft about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

They were in a cage on the sixth level and communicated with the cage’s operator at the surface level, to descend to the 12th level.

However, for some reason no one noticed that the 11th and 12th levels were flooded. Pierre Bernaquez, the superintendent of human resources, said alarms are supposed to sound if there is flooding.

Once the operator noticed there was a flood, he signalled the employees, but they didn’t respond, so he brought the cage back up, but it was empty, and the door was open.

“We don’t know what happened to them,” Bernaquez said, his voice breaking. “We’re still holding out hope that we will find them alive, but the chances that they were able to get out are slim.”

Flooding isn’t uncommon in a mine because there are fissures in the walls, Bernaquez explained.

“It’s normal in a mine, but there are pumps to keep things dry.”

He speculated that the miners may have been pushed out of the cage by the water pressure.

There are emergency exits on each level, but if the miners had found them they would have been discovered by now. Bernaquez said he hoped they found a dry refuge in the flood.

Mine operations have ceased since the employees went missing. Emergency workers scoured the shaft in hopes of finding the workers.

Special pumps were brought in from Abitibi yesterday afternoon, but it will take until this afternoon to fully empty the shaft of water.

Last night, emergency workers skilled in exploring mines arrived at the site to continue the search. Quebec’s workplace safety board, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, was investigating the accident, as was Sûreté du Québec.

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http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/todays-paper/Hopes+miners/2168952/story.html


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