Family members of the six miners trapped in mine in Utah are struggling to accept that they will never see the bodies of their love ones, who will remain permanently entombed in the coal mine after officials ordered an end to the search effort.
"It's a hard thing. Some are coping with it better than others," said Colin King, a spokesman and lawyer for the miners' families, according to The Associated Press. "They're still dealing with the fact they have to accept now that these miners are not going to be recovered any time soon – that they've died, in all likelihood."
A federal official said Saturday there is "no remaining hope" after nearly a month of rescue efforts discovered no signs of life, according to CNN. On Friday, rescue efforts at the Crandall Canyon Mine were suspended indefinitely.
"It's pretty hard to come to that closure when you don't see the body and don't have the certainty of what really happened," commented Dale Lund, a professor at the University of Utah who is an expert on bereavement, according to AP. "In this particular case, you probably have more uncertainty. Even if you believed the person is deceased at this point, it's unclear about how the death experience occurred."
Six miners became trapped in Crandall Canyon mine, just outside Huntington, Utah, after a "mountain bump" – or the shifting grounds which cause chunks of rocks to fall from the wall – occurred Aug. 6. Two more mountain bumps took place since the initial cave-in – the first causing a delay in rescue efforts and the second resulting in three deaths and six injuries during an underground rescue operation on Aug. 16.
In total, seven boreholes were drilled into the mountain to find more information on the men but instead discovered no signs of life. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated robotic camera became stuck in mud Friday leading officials to say they have run out of options.
"Sadly, there is no remaining hope of finding these miners alive," Mine Safety and Health Administration chief Richard Stickler said in a statement Saturday, according to AP.
President Bush responded to the conclusion of the search effort by saying, "Last night, a difficult decision was made to end the search.
"Laura and I are deeply saddened by this tragedy and continue to pray for the families of these men."
A nondenominational community memorial service for the six men is scheduled for Sept. 9 at a football field at a junior high school.
Meanwhile, the families are said to still be coping with the decision to end the search and plans for a memorial service and funerals will not be discussed with them until another week at the earliest.
"These families, and the whole community, have endured so much throughout this devastating tragedy" said Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, according to AP.
"Each family must determine their own way of gaining closure," he said.
The miners are: Luis Hernandez, Manuel Sanchez, Kerry Allred, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Don Erickson.