Rescuers trying to reach a miner trapped in a silver mine in Idaho are making slow progress.
Thirty year mining veteran Larry Marek has been trapped in the ironically named Lucky Friday mine since a cave in 1.6 kilometres below ground since Friday.
Hecla Mining workers have placed timber supports into only four feet of tunnel and rescue teams said yesterday they are waiting for an electrical component to arrive before they can reach the trapped miner.
The mining company brought in a remote-controlled digging machine on Sunday which had to be disassembled prior to entering the mine and reassembled over a kilometre below the surface.
Hecla officials say they are deploying a diamond drill to determine if there is open space behind the cave, where Marek may have sought refuge.
A statement released by the mining company says the machine sent in will move material faster “"without needing all the additional ground support to ensure the safety of our rescue teams.”
"In the meantime, rescue crews continue to safely advance and progress on the removal of material."
A whole slightly bigger than five centimetres could send air underground to the trapped miner.
The roof of a tunnel at the Lucky Friday mine collapsed on Friday where Marek and his brother were working, with one able to escape and one trapped below the surface since.
There has been no contact with the trapped miner since the collapse and his condition is unknown.
His brother, whose name was not available, has reportedly suffered no injuries.
A spokesman for the family told The Associated Press most of the family are at the rescue site.
She said the men came from a family of long-time miners, but would not provide any further information.
The mine is tucked into the mountains of Mullan, a historic mining town with a population of 840 in Adaho’s Panhandle.
A company spokesman said the employees had just finished watering down blasted out rock and ore when the collapse occurred about 23 metres from the end of the tunnel.
The cave in was about six metres wide and officials say it is unclear whether all or a portion of the section collapsed and whether the miner is trapped on the other side.
All mining activity has been halted at the mine for the rescue effort, which employs about 275 workers.
About 50 workers were underground when the collapsed occurred, according to company spokesperson Melanie Hennessey.
Image: The Associated Press