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Body of trapped Idaho miner recovered, company says

By the CNN Wire Staff
Larry Marek had been a Hecla Mining Co. employee for more than 12 years.
Larry Marek had been a Hecla Mining Co. employee for more than 12 years.
  • Larry Marek, 53, was trapped when the roof of the mine collapsed
  • Marek was a 12-year employee of Hecla Mining Company
  • The cause of the collapse has not been determined

(CNN) -- The body of an Idaho miner trapped when the roof of the mine he was working in collapsed nine days ago was recovered Sunday afternoon, the company that owns and operates the mine said.

"Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel at the tragic loss of our friend, colleague and 30-year veteran of the mining industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and friends," Hecla Mining Company said in a statement announcing that the body of Larry Marek had been recovered.

Earlier Sunday, the company had said it believed that Marek, a Hecla employee for more than 12 years, was dead.

Rescue workers had been digging through rocky earth more than 6,000 feet underground in an attempt to reach Marek, 53, following the April 15 collapse at the silver and mineral mine outside Mullan, Idaho.

Marek was one of two men working in that part of the Lucky Friday mine when a 10-foot by 20-foot section of mostly rock fell on him, said Hecla's President and CEO Phil Baker. This all occurred roughly 6,150 feet below the Earth's surface.

While the other man -- who has not been identified -- got out unharmed, there was no contact from Marek.

Baker said earlier the cause of the collapse had not been determined, promising an investigation "after the rescue efforts are complete."

Numerous special bolts and chain-link fence are used to keep the ground above the affected mine in place. Marek was trapped in a part of the mine where ore is removed and far from either of two possible exits, neither of which was adversely affected by the collapse, according to Baker.

Lucky Friday is a "deep underground silver, lead and zinc mine," according to Hecla's website. It has been in operation since 1942.

Hecla has 275 of its employees routinely working at the mine, in addition to about 100 contractors, according to a company statement. Its website describes the Coeur d'Alene-based company, founded in 1891, as the "largest and lowest-cost silver producer" in the United States.