Unstable conditions below ground set back efforts to reach trapped Utah mine workers.
“The work is not done. They’re going to stay alive in that atmosphere,” Murray said.
The air sample was taken from the cavity through a steel tube, with a microphone attached to pick up any signs of life.
|“The work is not done. They’re going to stay alive
in that atmosphere”
co-owner of the Crandall Canyon mine
Richard Stickler, head of the mine safety and health administration, said there was a chance the smaller hole could collapse, so rescuers were leaving the steel pipe in place.
The second hole was about 305m deep just before sunrise on Friday, Stickler said, leaving more than 244m to go. He said that drilling could be finished by Friday night.
Work was also under way in the mine itself, where rescuers were slowly burrowing through debris to reach the workers.
Rob Moore, vice president of Murray Energy, said: “It’s incredibly labour-intensive.”
Murray has insisted that an earthquake triggered the mine’s collapse but geologists have disputed that, saying that shaking recorded by their instruments was caused by the cave-in.
The men’s families were praying for their survival. Some gathered in a catholic church in predominantly Mormon Huntington.
Jose Luis Bainz, whose son is among the missing, told Al Jazeera: “He just started working at the mine a short time ago. We’re all trying to remain strong but it’s difficult waiting with no word from them.”