PROGRESS UPDATE: Rescue Operation Underway At Lucky Friday Mine - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

PROGRESS UPDATE: Rescue Operation Underway At Lucky Friday Mine In Mullan

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UPDATE: Sunday April 17, 2011 11:30 AM

MULLAN, Idaho - Crews are still working around the clock to find 53-year-old Larry Marek who went missing after a ground fall break at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho. Not much has changed since the last update. Rescue workers have advanced a total of 32 feet from the beginning of where the ground fall occurred. KHQ has had a crew on scene since early yesterday morning and will have the latest information LIVE from Mullan tonight on KHQ Local News at 5 and 6. The entire, latest update from the Helca Mine Company can be read below:

Official Press Release From Helca Mining Company:

The Lucky Friday mine has been in operation for 69 years. It's a deep underground silver, lead and zinc mine located in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District in northern Idaho. We currently have 275 employees and approximately 100 contractors.

• A localized fall of ground occurred on April 15 at approximately 5:30 pm in a section of the underground mine at 6150 feet below surface on a vein that is 2200 feet long. The fall of ground is contained in an area of approximately 75 feet in length. The ground that fell is 10 feet high and 20 feet wide. The Company does not know the length of the fall of ground.
• Two Hecla employees were working in the area where the fall of ground occurred. One employee is safe and we have not had communication with the other, who is Larry Marek, 53 years old with over 30 years experience in the mining industry. Mr. Marek has been working for the Company for 12 years.
• Our employees' safety is a top priority for us. Rescue efforts are under way, including efforts to safely remove the material needed to access the area where the employee was working. We have completed 20 feet of timber for ground support, and advanced a total of 32 feet from the beginning of where the fall of ground occurred.
• While our primary concern is Larry, the Company is also very concerned for his family and loved ones, and for his co-workers as well. We are in communication with the family and have been keeping them up-to-date. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends. The Company will also make available professional support and emotional counseling for the family and employees.
• The Company is working extraordinarily hard to reach Larry and will continue making every effort as long as it takes, assuring all the while that we are using safe methods in the process in order to avoid risk to other people. Rescue crews are working 24 hours a day in two twelve-hour shifts.
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• We are calling on all available resources to help safely expedite the rescue effort, and have secured the ability to remove the underground material remotely. We are on-site working on sending the remote control mucker (which removes underground rock materials with the operator remotely running the machine) underground. The remote control mucker will be disassembled, brought below surface, and reassembled underground. This will enable the removal of material without needing all the additional ground support to ensure the safety of our rescue teams. In the meantime, rescue crews continue to safely advance and progress on the removal of material.
• The Company currently has sufficient materials and equipment needed on-site to expedite rescue efforts.
• The Company is not yet focused on why and how this occurred. Our current focus is 100% directed to rescuing the miner and ensuring the safety of the rescue team. We will investigate the causes after rescue efforts are complete.
• The Lucky Friday mine is in full rescue operation, and is not presently engaged in mining operations.
• Communications are being coordinated with all relevant authorities, including local, state, regional and federal officials and emergency service organizations. MSHA is on site.
• We deeply sympathize with the family, employees and overall situation and are doing all that is possible to progress with rescue operations in a safe and expedited manner.
• Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones. At the request of Larry's family and friends, we would ask that you respect their privacy. The Company appreciates everyone's understanding and support.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

UPDATE: Saturday April 16, 2011 10:29PM

MULLAN, Idaho - The Hecla Mining Company confirmed during a press conference Saturday afternoon that one employee is trapped in the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho. Officials say two employees were working in the mine when the ceiling caved-in. One employee was able to get out of the mine uninjured and the other became trapped. Police identified the trapped miner as 53-year-old Larry Marek. Officials say he has nearly 30-years of mining experience. So far, rescuers have had no communication from Marek, which they say is normal at this point.

The cause of the collapse has not been determined, however officials say their main priority is focused on rescuing Marek and the safety of the rescue team. Three rescue crews are digging 24/7 and so far have progressed about 25 feet.

Previous Coverage: 


MULLAN, Idaho - Hecla Mining Company confirms there was a ground fall break at Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho around 5:30 p.m. Friday. HMC will not confirm how many miners are involved or their condition, but do say they are treating the situation as a rescue operation and will give a press conference in Mullan at 1 p.m. Saturday. Right now, they are investigating the situation.  KHQ has a crew in Mullan gathering as much information as possible.  Stay with khq.com and KHQ Local News Saturday for all the updates.

To watch a video about the Lucky Friday Mine, click HERE

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