A rescue is under way this morning to free 17 mine workers who are trapped in an elevator 775 feet below ground in upstate New York.
As of 8.20am, 15 of the workers have been safely removed from the Cargill-operated salt mine in Lansing. They are being evaluated by medical personnel.
Emergency management officials say rescue equipment is on the scene and some of the miners who are still stuck in an elevator nearly 800 feet underground aren’t in danger. It takes about 45 minutes to remove each group of workers from the shaft.
The mine workers are stuck in a lift nearly 800 feet down an access shaft of the Cargill-operated salt mine in upstate New York
‘Crews are working to rescue the men that have been trapped in the shaft since 10:20 pm,’ the Ithaca Fire Department said in a statement.
Cargill Inc. spokesman Mark Klein says the first four miners were raised to the surface in a basket around 7am. There were no reports of injuries, and the miners were said to be in good spirits.
The trapped workers have been handed out radios, blankets, heat packs and others supplies, and a crane has been brought to assist in the operation, according to the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response.
‘At 11.40pm Wednesday an emergency call came in to the Tompkins County 9-1-1 Center, reporting 17 mine employees stuck in an elevator below ground,’ reads a statement. ‘Efforts are focused on ensuring the integrity of the system and putting in place procedures to evacuate the people from the elevator.’
According to the Cargill spokesman, the miners got stuck Wednesday while descending to the floor of the 2,300-foot-deep mine – the deepest salt mine in the Western Hemisphere – to start their night shift.
Cargill bought the mining rights in 1970 to what was previous Cayuga Rock Salt’s site.
The company’s website says the mine just north of Ithaca has been in operation since 1922 and annually processes about 2 million tons of road salt that’s shipped throughout the northeast United States.
A truck sits at what would normally be a busy staging area at the Cargill salt mine, early Thursday, as rescue operation continues
The salt is mainly sold in the road deicing market but also under the Diamond Crystal name as residential deicing salt.
The company conducts evacuation drills annually, Klein said.
‘While we hope to never make use of that practice, it’s helping us today,’ he said.