Searchers began drilling a sixth hole 1,700 feet into a Utah coal mine in a last-ditch effort to find six miners trapped in an Aug. 6 cave-in. "This is the last hole," mine co-owner Bob Murray said Wednesday night. Murray said the tunnels into the "evil mountain" would be closed once the search ends.
Angry relatives have shouted at the owners of the Crandall Canyon Mine, saying they were planning to break a promise to continue searching until the men were found, dead or alive. "We want proper burials," said Jackie Taylor, whose daughter was dating one of the miners.
The announcement that the search would continue but the mine would close came as "welcome" news, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). But the story must not end there. Congress will have to investigate how the company and regulators allowed the "unsafe" mining that caused this tragedy.
Critics say regulators have grown too "cozy" with operators, said the Salt Lake Tribune. Everyone knew "retreat mining"—where miners take coal from pillars holding open largely depleted mines—was too dangerous for this mountain, which is rattled by seismic jolts. If an investigation finds chumminess between regulators and operators came before safety, it's time for reform.
All that was missing was a way for miners to communicate with the world above, said USA Today in an editorial. Congress has already passed a safety law requiring every miner to be equipped with wireless communications, but it gave operators until 2009 to start complying. "There's no good reason to wait that long."