It was a gloomy day outside with rain still pouring down.
Hearing Brother Wolf's words, Li Du hurried out and started toward the west where Marcos' three mines were. If the sound had indeed been caused by a cave collapsing, it would be one of those three mines.
Worried that an accident had happened, Li Du said to Brother Wolf and Godzilla, "Let's drive over and take a look."
Li Du intended to bring his furry children with him, but Ah Meow and Crispy Noodles hated the rainy weather. They did not want wet fur, so they hid in the house and refused to come out. On the other hand, Ali followed Li Du closely, and Ah Ow liked the rainy weather, so they were both happy to get into the car with Li Du.
There were no paved roads between the mining areas, only dirt roads. After the heavy rain, the dirt roads were extremely muddy. Fortunately, they were driving a four wheel drive vehicle and not a regular car. Otherwise, they probably would have gotten stuck halfway to the mine.
As they drove out, they quickly found the mine in question, the number two mine, where someone was waving their arms and shouting.
As they drove by, a big man rushed wildly up, pulled their door open, and shouted, "Collapse! The mine collapsed! Help us! Somebody's down there!"
Li Du hurriedly got out and asked, "What happened? Did anyone get buried?"
A pit appeared in the middle of the mine, and rain was running down into the collapsed area. Four or five men were struggling to move the ore out.
Brother Wolf calmly asked, "Have you called the police?"
The big man said, worried, "We have already called, but as you saw coming in, the road is very difficult to drive on right now. The firefighters' vehicles will have a hard time getting in!"
"Who's buried down there? How many people?"
"Two, Aubrey and boss Marcos."
Li Du frowned and said, "Do you mine in this weather?"
The big man said, "We have never had a problem before. We still mine no matter if it is raining or snowing!"
Brother Wolf said, "Let's stop talking and do something. Come on guys, let's find a way to help!"
"What is the depth of the hole? What's the height? What's the length? Where are they likely to be? Come and look at the blueprint," said Li Du.
Digging a hole was never just about picking a place to dig. You had to get an engineer to analyze the underground geology and make a blueprint. The miners then dug the holes according to the blueprint. Otherwise, the result of the excavation was likely to be a collapse, which was a very serious situation. For instance, when Li Du first dug a hole in the number 115 mine, he had hired an engineer to help with monitoring and testing.
The miners at Marcos' mine brought the blueprints over, and Li Du and the others studied the blueprint and the information about the mine. Meanwhile, Li Du released the little bug to see what was going on below.
The situation was not too bad. Aubrey and Marcos were actually stuck, not crushed to death. Aubrey was unconscious, but it appeared as though they would be able to save him. As for Marcos, he had ducked under a steel brace as the hole collapsed.
The good news was that they had not been killed. The bad news was they were buried. The support frame had been bent under the weight of the ore, but it had succeeded in holding up the big rocks that had fallen.
Aubrey and Marcos were huddled in a small corner under the support frame. Aubrey had head injuries, and he was unconscious, so they had to save him first. Marcos could still make some noise, but the hole was more than six meters deep, and it was separated by thick stone and soil. Sound became weaker as it spread out, making it difficult to locate its origin.
Li Du figured out the mine's details by reading the blueprint. When he was done, he pushed the blueprint away and said, "Finding and rescuing them will be difficult with just us. We have to keep them alive in the meantime."
"How can we find them?" The big, strong miner cried like a child. "We don't have the right equipment. We don't know where the two of them are."
Li Du said, "I'll locate them. My dog has been trained in search and rescue. Now, you look for a long rubber tube and prepare some warm milk. Go!"
"Be careful, boss!" Brother Wolf said.
Li Du nodded. He then discovered that there was no danger in the pit. The collapse was over. It was firm and would hold.
Taking Ah Ow to the collapsed mine, he found the location above Aubrey and Marcos. Marcos was relatively easy to find because he could make sounds, however, it more difficult to find Aubrey. He was unconscious and in bad condition.
Li Du determined Marcos' location, marked it, and then went above where Aubrey was, and said, "Aubrey is down here. My dog has found him." How had Ah Ow found them? Li Du didn't have to worry about explaining because he was her owner and the only one who could understand Ah Ow's signals.
Li Du commanded several miners to dig the rubble from the two locations. "Be careful, find a gap for me, and I will send down the tube."
These miners were confused, but they would not question Li Du. Right now they needed a supportive backbone, so when Li Du issued orders, they subconsciously took him as that backbone.
The pit was dug open, and the rubber tube was brought in. Li Du held it and put it in the gap. Because of Lightning Ridge's geology and very hard rock layers, there was a huge amount of rock above the collapsed mine. One advantage of this was that the rocks supported each other, creating gaps of varying sizes.
The men couldn't get in, but Ali, who was only the size of a rabbit, could. Li Du handed the tube to Ali, got Ali to bite on it, and then instructed Ali, "Go down these holes and you'll find someone. Hand the tube to him, ok?"
Ali looked at him, wide-eyed and puzzled. Li Du thought for a moment and called through the gaps in the collapse, "Marcos, my kangaroo will go down to give you something. You keep making noises and let it listen to you to find you!"
A muffled voice was heard. "Okay…"
Ali probably understood Li Du's purpose. It jumped down the hole with the pipe.
Li Du used the little bug to lead the way. From this position there were many crevices formed in the rocks. As long as Ali did not go too far, and with Marcos' voice as the guide, Ali would eventually enter the space under the support frame.
Ali darted through the cracks between the rocks like a big rat. Ali was flexible enough to cut through the cracks and put the tube in front of Marcos.
At the sight of Ali, Marcos was startled, and then the despair on his face turned to surprise. He held the tube with one hand and tried holding Ali with the other.
Ali, wary of this, darted into the space between the rocks and ran back up to safety.