“Are…are…you okay mate?” Brant choked through the dust.
“Oh, yeah,” moaned Todd through the haze and darkness.
The earth had trembled and dislodged literally tonnes of rock in Australia’s richest gold mine. Their tiny cage had protected them from the brunt of the rock fall but they were wedged in tight.
The earth continued to groan under the weight of the rock. “Are you hurt?” asked Brant trying to orientate himself.
“I don’t think so,” replied Todd slowly coming into view despite the fact he was only centimetres away from his workmate.
“LARRY! LARRY! Are you okay buddy?” Brant cried out into the blackness.
The fallen rock absorbed the sound, there was no reply. Larry had been operating the huge machine that controlled the cage Brant and Todd were now trapped in. Both ushered a silent prayer for their mate somewhere out there beyond the black.
They located the cage door and tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. As the dust settled the reality of their entombment settled with it. Fallen rock surrounded them on every side, there was no escape. “Hang tight Brant, the rescue team will kick into gear soon. We’ll be out of here in no time,” said Todd attempting to sound confident.
“If they ever find us, we are almost a kilometre underground!” Brant reacted.
“Don’t panic now mate, we have a bit of a wait ahead of us. Let’s hope for the best. Let’s hope the rest made it out and have alerted the management. We need to get our heads together and work out what we can do to get ourselves out of here. Turn off your light, we might need to conserve our batteries for a while,” instructed Todd.
Years of working underground had trained the men to endure the pitch black but under these circumstances it seemed more oppressive than usual. Regardless, they knew they would need to conserve the light and so they sat in silence contemplating what to do next. As the moments turned into hours the workmates reassured each other that salvation would come.
“My legs are killing me man,” Brant stated for the hundredth time.
Todd grunted an acknowledgment. The cramped conditions were the least of their worries. They hadn’t been able to stand or even stretch out since the rock fall three days ago, but nor had the eaten or had anything to drink, that is if you didn’t count the rancid water that flowed over the rock walls.
“Mate, let’s face it. They think were dead. No one is coming,” Brant lamented.
“What then, you just want to give up? Mate, we survived a cave in. They will get us out,” Todd replied.
“This SUCKS!” Brant yelled at no one in particular.
“HEY! HEY!” STOP BLASTING, WE’RE IN HERE!” the men shouted as one trying to boost the volume.
Frantically they grabbed rocks and smashed them against the steel cage They shouted. And prayed.
“Hello?” a familiar voice rang out in the darkness.
Brant and Todd turned on their lights and called out again.
“Todd? Brant?” called the voice of one of their workmates.
“Yes! YES!!! WE ARE HERE!!!”
“Hold on, we are coming,” came the sweet sound of salvation.
A tear of hope streaked down the big miner’s face.
“Guys, this rock is like trying to drill through a goat’s head. It’s going to take a bit more time.”
“You’re kidding mate! Come on, we have been here 10 days now,” said Todd despairingly.
“Okay guys, how was that?” asked the blasting expert who had been flown in from Sydney.
“Don’t be a big girl, mate, get on with it. Just get us out of here,” Todd joked.
A few hours later they saw the probe. The new torches, iPods and other comforts had been laid aside now. They were close, very close. Hope was rising despite the fragile and dangerous nature of the excavations being carried out directly beneath them.
“We see it, we can touch it! You little rippa!!!” shouted Brant at the site of the probe.
“Hang tight guys, it won’t be long now.”
On the 25th April 2006 Brant Webb and Todd Russell were trapped almost 1 kilometre underground in an Australian goldmine. They survived the rock fall and after some incredible set backs and difficulties they literally walked out of the mine 14 days later.
Larry Knight was killed instantly. Please pray for all involved.
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