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Miners honored at service; hundreds join in prayer
SOMERSET, Pa. -- Nine miners who spent more than three days in a flooded coal mine 240 feet underground joined hundreds of people at a church service Sunday night to give thanks for their rescue a week ago.
Family, friends and neighbors filled a small church about 100 yards from where the men were trapped for 77 hours in a cramped shaft at Quecreek Mine in western Pennsylvania.
Early in the service, a man in a white T-shirt emblazoned with the word "America" lit 10 candles placed behind 10 miners' helmets on a table near the altar.
The candles were lit in honor of the nine miners who escaped immediately, thanks to a warning radioed to them by the trapped men. The tenth candle was lit for the person who guided those men to safety.
"These candles represent the vigilance of the nine who escaped and how they stayed vigilant while the other nine were still underground," said the Rev. Joseph Beer of the Mount Laurel United Church of Christ.
Rescuers bored through the ceiling where the remaining miners were trapped at 10:16 p.m. Saturday, July 27 -- a feat hailed by some as a miracle.
Jerry Davis, an assistant district manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, was one of the first on the scene and worked at the command center during the rescue.
"I spent a number of hours of my life here, three or four days, I wanted to share some of the blessings they received," Davis, 60, said following the service.