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Officials: Rescuers, Miners Speak

July 28, 2002

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SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) _ Rescue workers made contact Saturday with some of the nine miners who have been trapped underground for three days via a telephone dropped through a pipe, according to rescue officials.

Rescuers were seen hugging and giving the thumbs-up sign soon after dropping the telephone into the shaft 240 feet below.

``They’re all down there. They’re waiting to come up. There’s nine of them. We talked to them on the telephone,″ a mud-caked rescue worker shouted up from the pit near where they dropped the communication device.

After three days of desperate drilling, a giant auger broke through at about 10:16 p.m. to the dark and cramped chamber where the miners had been trapped since 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Workers quickly set about removing the drill and preparing the shaft for a rescue capsule.

Rescue workers had remained optimistic the miners were alive, even though there had been no contact with them since midday Thursday, when tapping was heard on an air hole.

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