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Trapped miner, 53, presumed dead

Phil Baker, president of Hecla Mining Company. Phil Baker, president of Hecla Mining Company.
Associated Press / April 25, 2011

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BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho miner trapped underground nine days ago was most likely buried when the collapse occurred and is presumed to be dead, mining company officials said yesterday.

Hecla Mining Company president Phil Baker said that after days of an around-the-clock rescue effort, officials now believe Larry Marek, 53, did not survive the collapse inside the Lucky Friday Mine on April 15.

“We now believe that Larry was under the fall of ground when it occurred,’’ Baker said in a video posted on Hecla’s website. He added, “Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel at the tragic loss of Larry.’’

The announcement follows more than a week of trying to reach the miner caught in the cave-in more than a mile underground. By yesterday, officials had determined that he could not have survived.

“Based on crew observations of the area where the fall of ground occurred and crewmember experience in similar situations, we believe Larry is deceased,’’ company spokeswoman Stefany Bales said.

Marek and his brother, Mike, had just finished watering down blasted-out rock and ore in the mine when the ceiling collapsed in the 6,150-foot deep tunnel. Mike Marek escaped unharmed.

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