Risking lives to recover bodies, take two

Rather than adding to this thread, I’m starting a new one here.

The Crandall Mine collapse has gotten some bad news this weekend - a borehole drilled to one of the spots where officials had hoped that the miners might have been able to survive as found insufficient oxygen to support life, and no signs of any survivors. Mine and rescue officials are talking about calling off rescue efforts, and talking about not making any kind of recovery effort, either.

The families are up in arms about this.

I can’t speak to the families’ assertion that had the large scale bore hole been attempted from the beginning no further lives would have been lost - I just don’t know enough to judge. I suspect that there are likely good and valid reasons for not making that decision, but I don’t know.

What does bother me is their assumption that there is some obligation to try to move the mountain (quite literally) to get their loved ones or at least their bodies out. I think that, after all this time, it’s unreasonable to assume, absent any evidence to support it, that the missing miners are still alive. And if they’re dead, in unknown areas, the efforts to recover the bodies, now, just seems too much for too little.

I know the families are claiming that sending down the escape capsule, if such a hole were drilled, would be relatively risk free - but I’m not sure I believe that. Given that the mountain, and the mine seem to be still experiencing ‘bumps’ I can easily imagine something happening to trap the escape capsule in the newly drilled shaft. If there were signs that there were survivors down there - the risk wouldn’t bother me so much. But for body recovery, it just seems too much.

Any other Dopers care to speak up?

I am of mixed feelings on this; if there is a chance that the miners have found a pocket of survivability, and are down there waiting to be rescued, all efforts must be made. On the other hand, if there is no chance of rescuing live miners and it just becomes body recovery, I don’t think it’s worth taking a chance on a rescuer’s life. They’re already buried.

I heard some comments, on NPR this morning, about the escape capsule use. It was pointed out that the escape capsule has been used for rescue at several hundred feet, and we’re talking a couple thousand feet here. The terrain above the mine here is also very steep and difficult to negotiate. I forget the estimated time to drill a capsule hole, but I think it was more than a week. It is tough, very tough, but, at some point reality must be recognized. Even if the miners found decent air, they must be near starvation by now. I’m sorry to say I suspect they’re already dead and it’s not worth risking more lives to recover their bodies.