The workers were trapped in an elevator shaft 900 feet underground.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user TJBlackwell
At 10 p.m. Wednesday, an unknown elevator malfunction left 17 miners stranded 900 feet underground in western New York. This morning, a successful rescue mission brought all of them to the surface without any reported injury, according to Ithaca Journal.
“This is really a proud day for a lot of us,” Shawn Wilczynski, mine manager for operating company Cargill, said at a press conference following the rescue. “We came to the rescue of ourselves.”
The miners at the salt mine, located in Lansing, New York, were descending into the 2,300-foot shaft when the elevator mysteriously stopped functioning. Ithaca Journal reports that an outgoing shift had just used the elevator about five minutes before the 17 miners began their descent. The men were trapped there overnight, but officials were able to communicate with them and send them supplies. Officials used a crane and rescue basket to begin lifting the men at 7 a.m. Thursday, with the last man rescued shortly after 8 a.m.
The Cargill mine has a strong record of safety—its website notes that as of 2015 it had gone five years without a lost-time accident. At the press conference, Wilczynski announced that the mine will suspend service until Cargill completes a full safety check of the elevator. Although this could be a slow process, he noted that safety comes first.
“We will not go back to work until all our infrastructure is back in 100 percent safe operating conditions,” Wilczynski said. “We will take whatever time is necessary.”
In addition to the safety inspection, Cargill will work with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to assemble a new safety plan, leaving no stone unturned in light of this incident. Even with work suspended, Wilczynski says that Cargill has plenty of road salt in inventory and will continue to be able to serve customers.