Rescue teams continue to pump water out of gravel pit - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Rescue teams continue to pump water out of gravel pit

Source; WLBT Source; WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) -

Tuesday morning, the rescue efforts continue for the two men buried and trapped in a landslide Friday.

Monday night, according to MEMA officials, 2 sets of pumps needed for sludge removal arrived around 5 p.m. Monday.

The pumps ran through the night with brief periods of routine stoppage to clear and reset the hydraulic pumping unit for better suction.

The crews used water piped down to the area to wash material from under the machines to the pump.

The pump has slowly been moved in and beyond the location of the machines to remove the spilled material from the units.

A state rescue/recovery team has been contacted and will be there soon to help draw up a plan for extraction if a cab becomes visible and the miners are inside the units.

Progress is continuing with the pumping but the operator is looking for a long reach excavator or the slurry dive team that conducted the Robinson Road Coal impoundment recovery in West Virginia.

 Crystal Springs residents gathered at the Railroad Park to pray for a miracle at the Green Brothers Gravel pit.

The workers trapped are James "Dee" Hemphill and Emmit Shorter. There were songs and prayers as hundreds remembered the workers and their anxious families.

Earlier on Monday, Governor Phil Bryant and officials involved in the recovery process held a news conference updating the progress.

These efforts have been criticized by the families and others for not reaching the men quickly.

MEMA officials said this pit collapse, trapping Shorter and Hemphill, is a first in the nation.

"In the history of mining and quarry operations in the United States, this is an unprecedented event," said MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson. "The focus right now is on safety and no one is gonna rush this operation and risk the lives of any of the other responders that are out there." 

The Green Brothers Company began pumping excess water from the area Monday in preparation for equipment coming from out of state to hopefully finally reach the workers.

"We have material down there that we have to account for and we don't know the total weight or the circumstances there," said Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman William O'Dell. "But we also know that we're gonna have to approach it in a different manner." 

Over the past several nights, crews have stopped recovery efforts before midnight, angering those awaiting completion.

During Monday's news conference MSHA officials said this is now a 24-hour operation.

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