SALT LAKE CITY – A robotic camera lowered into a mountain became stuck 10 feet from its target, forcing crews to come up with another route to attempt getting video of an area where six miners might be trapped, an official said Tuesday.
The camera was pulled back from the hole, district manager Jack Kuzar of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration told reporters after briefing families in Huntington.
The camera instead will be lowered through the seventh hole being drilled into the mountain, and into an eating area where the miners may have sought refuge during the Aug. 6 cave-in. The new hole probably won't be finished until Thursday, Kuzar said.
The camera got stuck Monday night, but MSHA did not publicly disclose the problem until Tuesday. The camera had barely a half-inch of room to maneuver. MSHA has called getting new information from the robotic camera a long shot.
"I think they had quite a bit of hope that something would come out of this," said Sonny Olsen, a spokesman for some families. "They're a little bit disappointed, but they understand it's difficult work."
Six holes have been drilled into the Crandall Canyon mine over three weeks as way to learn anything about the status of the six miners in the mountain, 120 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Federal officials have said the instability of the mountain makes it too risky to resume underground digging or to drill a hole wide enough to send a manned rescue capsule into the mine.
The robot can travel 1,000 feet and has a 200-watt light so it can take images of objects up to about 50 feet away. It is similar to one used to search the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.
No one knows whether the six miners survived the collapse, which left reinforced roofs of mine tunnels mostly intact but blew out the walls, hurling chunks of coal like bullets and blocking passages.
Horizontal tunneling through the rubble was halted Aug. 16 after a second cave-in killed three rescuers, including a federal safety inspector, and injured six others.