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VIDEO: Mine workers trapped 900 ft below ground rescued

This photo provided by the Ithaca Fire Department shows a crane that will assist the rescue of seventeen miners stuck in an elevator underground at the Cargill Salt Mine in Lansing, N.Y., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. (Ithaca Fire Department)

LANSING, N.Y. (WSTM) - All 17 miners who were stuck hundreds of feet below the surface in an elevator at the deepest salt mine in the Western Hemisphere have been rescued.

Cargill Inc. spokesman Mark Klein says the last two miners were raised to the surface by a crane around 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the mine in the central New York town of Lansing.

Their rescue ended an ordeal that lasted about 10 hours. Klein says the miners were never in danger.

"They huddle together, they did what they could to keep each other warm and keep each other's spirits up and they persevered the best way that they could," he said.

Klein says the miners got stuck 900 feet underground around 10 p.m. Wednesday while descending to the floor of the 2,300-foot-deep mine to start their shift.

Video of the rescue:


A basket was lowered by crane down into the shaft and one person went down in the basket to put safety harnesses on the miners before being lifted to safety. After all 17 men were safely rescued from the elevator, a sense of relief rushed over rescue workers on scene.

"We wanted to get blankets around them and really the first thing was to say 'nice to see you' and get them into a dry, warm environment so they could start to recover," Lansing Fire Assistance Chief Dennis Griffin said. "That's when we all stand, look at each other and say this is a win. We're all safe, we're all going home with no incidents and we all kind of pat each other on the back."

At a press conference Thursday morning, Plant Manager Shawn Wilczynski said all 17 miners were rescued and are in good spirits.

Wilczynski said:

I think this is really a proud day for a lot of us Central New York people to be quite honest with you. Again, we came to the rescue of ourselves and, you know, we have a lot of our own employees are volunteer fire department people for Lansing Fire Department or Scipio, Union Springs. So, those connections are really valuable at this particular time.

The rescue mission began at 10 p.m. Wednesday after an elevator in an access shaft got stuck 900 feet down with 17 mine workers inside.

Get an inside look at the mine here:

Cargill spokesperson Mark Klein said none of the workers were injured and remained in constant contact with rescue workers throughout the night and into the morning.

The Lansing Fire Department, Cargill Mine staff and Ithaca Fire Department worked with technical rescue experts to help free the men from the mine.

Using a crane, a cable was lowered in the shaft to rescue the miners. Officials say this was not the "usual" crane, as it had the ability to reach 1,000 feet down into the shaft.

"This isn't an accident that we want to look at lightly, there could be further repercussions down the road," Wilczynski said.

All 17 miners were freed from the elevator around 8:30 a.m. Officials say they are cold, but otherwise doing well.

The men will not go back to work until equipment is functioning safely, Wilczynski said.

While the miners were hoisted up, the elevator remained in the shaft. Cargill is investigating why the elevator became stuck in the first place, saying the mine is typically safe and an incident of this magnitude never seemed possible.

Wilczynski said:

"It's just something you hope that you never have to use, but it's just nice that when it comes to fruition that it ended in the result that it did today, so, outstanding results from that and a tremendous amount of relief."

The mine will stay closed until officials can determine the mine is safe to use again.

Cargill suspects a mechanical failure that happened when one of the steel vertical beams became loose under the elevator is likely what caused the issue. However, the company says the elevator needs to be freed before it investigators can pinpoint the exact cause.

The mine will stay closed until officials can determine the mine is safe to use again.

Cargill suspects a mechanical failure that happened when one of the steel vertical beams became loose under the elevator is likely what caused the issue. However, the company says the elevator needs to be freed before it investigators can pinpoint the exact cause.

SEE ALSO:

UPDATE: All 17 salt miners stuck in an underground elevator have been rescued

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A look inside the Cargill Salt Mine in Lansing

A look back at the Cargill Cayuga Salt Mine in Lansing

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