All 17 workers trapped in Cargill salt mine have been rescued


Emergency crews have rescued 17 miners who were trapped hundreds of feet below ground at the Cargill salt mine in central New York overnight.

The incident happened about 10:20 p.m. EST Wednesday, the Ithaca Fire Department says. The miners were about to start their shift and were heading underground when the elevator got stuck, NBC News says.

The elevator apparently malfunctioned, the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response notes, trapping them 800-900 feet under ground.

Technical rescue experts were called in to assist in what officials called a "major rescue" and one of the "most difficult rescues in recent memory," the Ithaca Fire Department wrote on Facebook.

By about 8:30 a.m. EST Thursday, all the miners had been brought to the surface. No one was injured, a spokesperson with the Minnesota-based company told BringMeTheNews.

Details on the rescue

Rescue efforts involved more than 15 agencies and lasted about 10 hours in frigid temperatures, the fire department notes.

A crane and basket were brought in around 6 a.m. Thursday to bring the miners up. The basket carried two to four people up at a time, officials said at a news conference Thursday morning, and each trip took about 45 minutes, the Ithaca Journal reports. (Click here for more photos of the rescue.)

The miners were never in danger, a Cargill spokesperson told The Associated Press, noting rescuers were in constant contact with them during the incident.

Kept each others' spirits up

At the news conference, the manager of the Cargill mine said the people trapped "did what they could to keep each others' spirits up" while they were waiting to be rescued, according to a tweet from WIVB-TV.

The miners ranged in age from 20-60 years old, reporter Anthony Borrelli tweeted, including a person who has 40 years of mining experience.

Officials said it's not clear what caused the elevator to malfunction, but it is under investigation.

The Cargill rock salt mine is located in Lansing, New York, and processes salt that is used for de-icing treatments, the company's website says. The mine shaft descends 2,300 feet into the deepest salt mine in North America, the Ithaca Journal notes.

It is one of three rock salt mines operated by the Minnesota-based company.

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