Update: Three Trapped In SE Kentucky Coal Mine

Here’s an update from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet:

FRANKFORT, Ky. – (June 20, 2011) – Rescuers in Bell County are working to place pumps at the entrance of an underground mine where three miners are trapped due to high water from heavy overnight rains. The Kentucky office of Mine Safety and Licensing, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and officials from Bell County Coal Corporation, which operates the Jellico Number 1 mine near Middlesboro, say the miners are safe and communicating with officials as they await rescue.

The water collected in a dip or swag about 180 feet inside the mine’s entrance preventing the miners from exiting. The miners are in an area 600 feet from the mine’s entrance on a high elevation point and communicating by phone to the joint command center.

The flooding of the mine is believed to have been caused by the failure of a diversion ditch at the top of a box cut allowing water to flood the mine. There is no estimated time for the rescue to be completed, but officials are very optimistic that the rescue will be successful.

From the Associated Press

A spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration says three miners trapped in a flooded underground coal mine in southeastern Kentucky are in continuous contact with mining officials by telephone.

Amy Louviere  says none of the miners was harmed and they have moved to dry ground within the James River Coal-owned mine.

Louviere says the miners became trapped at 6:40 a.m. EDT at the Jellico #1 Mine in Bell County. She says pumps are being used to divert water out of the mine and rescuers are en route.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman Dick Brown says a portion of the mine entrance collapsed, causing a diversion ditch with water in it to fall in.

Heavy rains fell overnight in the area bordering Tennessee and Virginia. The National Weather Service has issued a flash-flood warning for the region until late afternoon.