Saturday, 09 June 2012 02:17:54 PM

 THE BEACONSFIELD MINE COLLAPSES ON

 25th April 2006

 This is my dedication Page to

A Thumbnail

Todd Russell and Brant Webb for their

'THE GREAT ESCAPE'

& RIP Larry Knight

 

 

 

9.23pm Tuesday 25 th April 2006

On Anzac Day a seismic earth tremor measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale triggers a rock fall at the Beaconsfield gold mine about 20km north-west of Launceston in Tasmania, Australia. Trapping 17 miners underground, fourteen miners reach a safety chamber, but Todd Russell, aged in his 30s, Brant Webb, aged in his 40s, and Larry Knight, 44, are trapped 925m underground.

4.45pm Wednesday April 26th   

Grave fears are held for the three miners at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine. A remote controlled robot equipped with two cameras is now made available and ready to go down the mine to find the three men, not yet accounted for. "The situation is still very dangerous to the point where we are unable to access the immediate area," manager Matthew Gill,  Beaconsfield Gold Mine said. The  unions are asking whether enough reinforcing was done after a series of mini-quakes in October 2005.

9.15pm Wednesday April 26th 

The remote-controlled earth-moving loader equipped with cameras is used to begin excavating the rock fall. Tasmanian Resources Minister Bryan Green said a full investigation into the tragedy would be launched. Todd Russell's father, Noel, said: "My son is one of the boys trapped down there, so I don't want to say too much at the moment." When asked how the family was coping with situation, he said "very tough".

7.00 am Thursday April 27 

The mayor of West Tamar, said the council was doing all it could to organise support for the miners' families. "It's a devastating time in the local community,". "We all live on hope, but it's a bad rock fall. Thankfully the other miners who were underground at the time have come to the surface safely. 
"We have to brace ourselves as a community and pull together."

7.22 am Thursday April 27th 

The robotic digger reaches the area where the miners were last seen. The body of Larry Knight is found amongst the rubble of the vehicle which he had been operating and 13 hours later it is brought to the surface. Beaconsfield Gold Mine manager Matthew Gill appeared visibly distressed as he read a prepared statement: "The fate of the other two trapped miners is not known, but obviously grave fears are held." Fellow miner Chris Mackay, a friend of the three, said the community was in shock. "It's shattering news for the families and the people who work there, and for myself, I'm still pretty well in shock now,". Later that day six-man crews working in unstable conditions start digging a 37m horizontal tunnel to reach the miners.

1.50am Thursday April 27th

Loader removes an unmanned Nissan Patrol which was blocking access. Mr. Knight's body is recovered and removed from the mine.  
Families had waited about 14 hours before they were informed of the identity of the body, which was located in the mine at 7.22am yesterday.

2.30am Thursday April 27th

Loader starts removing the first of two known rock falls.
 
Friday 28th April
 
Search continues as rescuers dig a horizontal tunnel to bypass the unsafe area where the rock falls occurred. Area is still unstable with seismic activity.

Sunday 30th April 

AT LAST!  5.45 pm the men are captured on thermal-imaging cameras huddled in the collapsed shaft and the effort to rescue them is redoubled.
The miners are believed to have drunk rancid water dripping down the walls of the collapsed gold mine. They beg rescuers for a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs, while a nutrition expert recommended plain bread and water. The cage 1.5mx1.2m cherry picker is in size and the men were using it to work from to stabilise the walls from the previous tremor in October 2005. Large boulders have trapped them inside the cage. No room to stand for these tall men.

Monday 1st May

Rescuers drilled a narrow hole through 12 metres of rock through which a 100 millimetre PVC pipe was inserted and water, biscuits, tablets and protein drinks passed to the two miners, their first food in six days. Rescue teams were tonight expected to resume digging a wider access tunnel through possibly unstable rock, culminating in a delicate drilling operation when they finally get close to the trapped men. But, fearful of further rock falls, rescuers have abandoned blast drilling and will instead bore their way through the rock.

Tuesday 2nd May 

A special raise borer machine was brought from the western Tasmanian mining town of Rosebery and assembled to drill a rescue tunnel. This machine turned the hard rock into dust. Drilling could not start until the following day as preparations were detailed and complicated. Despite the delays the miners were reported to be 'in good health.' After the initial jubilation at finding them alive, it is made very rescue to pull them to safety will be very dangerous and time-consuming for all the helpers. And the frustration begins to take its toll.

Wednesday 3rd May 

A cement platform to anchor the specialised drilling equipment was being finished. Workers begin drilling a pilot hole for the one metre diameter rescue tunnel. Enabling the rescuers to get an access pipethrough to them and the miners were given food, water, nutritional drinks, vitamins, dry clothes, space blankets, glow sticks, magazines and iPods - all passed through a 90mm PVC pipe. "They remain in good health and have now received iPods so they can listen to their favourite music." One of the men had asked for country rock, authorities said. A digital camera has also been passed to the men so they can show rescuers and medical staff their surroundings and what is happening to them.

Thursday 4th May

The drilling continued, with a pilot hole being bored to guide the larger raise borer along the route of the rescue tunnel. The men enjoyed their first solid food in a week: egg sandwiches. Todd Russell and Brant Webb had told rescuers they wanted to walk when they reached the surface. They also received yoghurt on Thursday, and requested chicken sandwiches for dinner. Their sense of humour always helping through. These tough Aussie larkins, must be made of gold.

Friday 5 thMay

Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl sent a fax to the men after he learns that they asked for his music to be sent down on mp3 players. The mission to rescue to get Brandt and Todd is progressing tediously and slow. The first metres of rock are described as being as very, very difficult and tough.

Saturday 6th May

 The raise borer has now completed its part of the operation. It will be removed and workers will attempt to finish the tunnel using hand tools including diamond blade chainsaws.

Sunday 7th May  

Workers encounter rock 'five times harder than concrete' as they try to finish the tunnel under the trapped men. They use low-grade explosives, but progress is extremely slow.

Monday 8th May -

Very late at night, a test probe is sent through the last metre of rock separating the men from their rescuers and freedom. The men say they can see the probe, and workers begin the final push. The end is near for the operation. We are now led to believe they will be finally out sometime tomorrow.

4:47am Tuesday 9th May 

The rescuers/ miners used a hydraulic rock splitter, and finally break through to the two entombed men. I can see your light," screamed a rescue worker as he broke through the earth separating them from freedom. Mr. Russell and Mr. Webb shouted back: "I can see your light too".....They were brought to a crib at the 375-metre mark, where they being greeted, showered, medically checked and ready to face daylight at last and finally reaching the surface at just on sunrise at 6am.

After 14 days trapped one kilometre underground, Todd Russell and Brant Webb walked out defiantly with their arms raised, walking unassisted. 

Every day since we heard that this terrible disaster unfolded before our eyes were being given updates on what was happening. On Sunday evening of the 30th April thermal images came from below of the remaining two miners that they were alive. I remember hearing it and running around the house for joy.

Many Australians prayed for their safe return and sat glued to TV and their radios for the latest news on the rescue. Many media releases came and went and days went by and still they were not out, whilst we just sat back amazed how they were still coping and alive. The mission had to de done with precise movement so and not to disturb the rock that was silting on their cage. No m ore lives could be risked unnecessarily so.

Reporters came from around the globe to talk to rescuers, paramedics, police, their families, fireman, explosive experts, geologists, the locals etc.

 ....I read that it was Saint of day St. Pachomius was born about 292 …….led a life of extreme austerity and total dedication to God; combining manual labor with unceasing prayer both day and night… Well manual labour was being done and we were praying night and day. The nation certainly was praying.

Both pounding their fists proudly into the air to the roar of the crowd that had been patiently waiting for them. As so many estimated arrivals had come and gone. Both men were quick to find their immediate family members to hug. Not forgetting to move their safe tags, to prove they were out of the mine, perhaps forever.

The rescuers were just so amazed at the physical condition, what an incredible “Great Escape” These two tough Aussie larrikins had achieved what was thought to be impossible. They were taken to hospital in an ambulance for health clearance.

Their now beaded faces and big beautiful beaming smiles giving the thumbs sign up just showed the world what gutsy Aussie men they are.

Unfortunately the rock movements on 25th April had killed their mate Larry Knight. Larry was married to Jackie and had three children had swapped places with one of the other miners that fateful day; this decision was one that had killed him. 14 other men made it to safety after the tremor.

The families had sent items such as "special something, from their children, just a reminder and to keep the spirits up, just to let them know that everyone's waiting them above ground and not to give up.

Brant Webb had spent the first hours after the Beaconsfield mine collapse trying to save the life of his miner mate Todd Russell who was choking and vomiting under the pressure from heavy rubble, and with their long hours of waiting got some plans of their own to go with.

Larry Knight’s funeral was held back several times hoping that the remaining two got out. However finally it had to be held and it was the day they were brought to the surface.