West Virginia authorities search for 3 people trapped in abandoned mine

Authorities are racing to rescue three people trapped in an inactive West Virginia mine, state and mine company officials said.

Twelve rescuers were set to enter the mine Wednesday through two entrances, guided by others at the surface, according to a statement from the office of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Four people were reported missing Saturday after an abandoned ATV they were believed to be riding was found near the entrance of the mine in Clear Creek, Justice’s office has said.

One of the four emerged late Monday night, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said.

The man said the three people left trapped were alive and gave authorities details of their location, according to Justice’s office.

Rescue teams failed to find them Monday and Tuesday. But they have been removing standing water from the mine and pumping in fresh air, and by Wednesday, more access space had been cleared, allowing more rescuers to enter, Justice’s office said.

The underground mine is inactive and sealed, Contura Energy, whose affiliate Elk Run Coal owns the property, told CNN, adding that the person who made it out “was apprehended by law enforcement.”

“We are in contact and full cooperation with the appropriate state and federal mine safety agencies to locate the remaining missing individuals,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

This is the second trespassing incident at an abandoned mine reported in the last two weeks, Justice said in the statement.

“Our priority is rescuing these individuals and maintaining the safety of our mine rescue teams,” the governor said. “I have ordered the coordination of all resources needed for rescuers to continue to search the mine. We’re doing everything we can to accelerate the rescue.”

The search and rescue team includes the Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training; West Virginia National Guard; West Virginia State Police; Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office; Boone County Sheriff’s Office and mine officials.

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