Three people found alive in US coal mine

Erica Treadway was barefoot when she walked out of the mineImage copyright

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Erica Treadway was barefoot when she walked out of the mine

Three people have been rescued after spending almost five days trapped thousands of feet underground in an abandoned US coal mine.

The group of four people was reported missing on Saturday night after their all-terrain vehicle was found near the mine in Whitesville, West Virginia.

One member of the group was able to find his way out of the pitch-black cave after two days inside.

On Wednesday night, the rest were found by rescuers and brought to hospital.

The group – ranging in age from 21 to 43 – is suspected of entering the cave to find copper wirings, family members said.

“It’s worth money,” said Randy Williams, whose 25-year-old daughter Kayla was rescued on Wednesday.

“A couple years ago it was up to almost $4 (£3.20) a pound. You could go into a mine and make $1,000 a day,” he told ABC News.

Kayla’s cousin, Eddie Williams, emerged from the cave on Monday. Authorities have yet to learn how he managed to get out on his own.

Erica Treadway, 31, who has three children, and Cody Beverly were also found in Wednesday’s rescue, according to the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

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The group is suspected of attempting to steal copper from the abandoned mine

As the group emerged from the mine, community members who had gathered nearby – and fed rescue crews for days – burst into jubilant celebration.

Covered in dirt and coal dust as he walked towards a waiting ambulance, Mr Beverly, 21, told reporters: “I’m with my family now, I’m doing fine.”

“My shoes were soaked, and I couldn’t get my feet warm,” Mrs Treadway said as she emerged barefoot from the mine.

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‘Copper theft’

Police say the group were attempting to steal copper and may face criminal charges for theft as well as trespassing.

According to CBS, the rescue cost the state nearly $1m.

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Kayla Williams hugged family members before being brought to a waiting ambulance

The group was found almost 4,000ft (1,220m) underground in the mine, which has been closed for two years.

Emergency crews say they were found in separate locations.

Rescuers had used giant fans to pump fresh air into the mine, after encountering dangerous levels of oxygen.

Water which had blocked several passage of the cave, after a winter storm hit the region, was also pumped during rescue operations.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice told reporters that there is an obvious lesson to be learned.

“Well, we surely don’t need people in any way shape, form or fashion going into abandoned mines.”

“That’s for sure,” he said.

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