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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Miners Rescued From Flooded Shaft

SOMERSET, Pennsylvania -- Nine Pennsylvania coal miners who were trapped for three days in a flooded mine traveled one-by-one to safety Sunday in a cramped yellow rescue cage hauled up from the shaft 73 meters underground.

Emerging from the subterranean darkness and into the glare of klieg lights in the predawn hours, the helmeted men were moved quickly onto stretchers as rescue workers cheered each new arrival.

"All nine. All nine," Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker shouted as the last man was pulled to the surface after a trip of several minutes through a 66-centimeter wide shaft at the Que Creek mine in Somerset County, 96 kilometers southeast of Pittsburgh.

Two miners, one suffering from minor chest pains and another with an injured shoulder, were flown to a trauma center 40 kilometers away in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The others were in relatively good condition and being evaluated at local hospitals.

"What took you guys so long?" were the first words the miners uttered when rescuers established contact down in the shaft, said state Environmental Secretary David Hess.

The crew had been excavating bituminous coal 2.4 kilometers from the entrance of the mine late Wednesday when they inadvertently broke through into a flooded adjacent shaft that had been abandoned in the 1950s. An estimated 190 million to 230 million liters of water gushed into the mine from the abandoned shaft, trapping the men in an underground chamber.