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Chances slim to find three missing miners alive

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    Chances slim to find three missing miners alive The Gazette (Montreal) October 31, 2009 Emergency workers started the painstaking 20-hour process to pump out
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      Chances slim to find three missing miners alive

      Chances slim to find three missing miners alive

      The Gazette (Montreal)
      October 31, 2009

      Emergency workers started the painstaking 20-hour process to pump out the bottom floors of a mine shaft in search of three miners who went missing late Friday night in Desmaraisville in the James Bay region.

      But chances of finding the missing miners alive were slim Saturday night. They were working to restore the abandoned Bachelor Lake gold mine owned by Metanor Resources situated about 600 kilometres north of Montreal.

      La Farre resident Bruno Goulet, 36, Amos resident Dominico Bollini, 44, both Metanor employees, and Marc Guay, 31, an Amos resident and an employee of the mining contracting company Montali, were working to align the walls of the mine shaft about 11:30 Friday night.

      They were in a cage on the sixth floor and communicated with the cage’s operator, located at surface level, to descend to the 12th floor. However, for some reason no one noticed that the 11th and 12th floors of the shaft were flooded. Pierre Bernaquez, the superintendent of human resources said alarms are supposed to sound if there is flooding.

      Once the operator noticed there was a flood, he signaled the employees, but they didn’t respond, so the he brought the cage back up, but it was empty, and the door was open.

      “We don’t know what happened to them,” Bernaquez said, his voice cracking. “We’re still holding out hope that we will find them alive, but the chances that they were able to get out are slim.”

      Bernaquez explained flooding isn’t uncommon in a mine, because there are fissures in the walls.

      “It’s normal in a mine, but there are pumps to keep things dry,” he said.

      He speculated the miners may have been pushed out of the cage by the water pressure. There are emergency exits on each of the floors of the mines, but if the miners had found them, they would have been discovered by now. Bernaquez said he hoped they had found a dry refuge in the flood.

      Mine operations have ceased since the employees went missing. Emergency workers scoured the shaft in hopes of finding the workers. Special pumps were brought in from Abitibi yesterday afternoon, but it will take until this afternoon to fully empty the shaft of water.

      Last night, emergency workers skilled in exploring mines arrived at the site to continue the search. Quebec’s workplace safety board, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, was investigating accident, as was Sûreté du Québec police.

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