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Miners freed after hours trapped 900 feet underground

A crane was sent to assist the rescue at the Cargill salt mine in New York. Credit: Ithaca Fire Department (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

SHAMAR WALTERS, ALI GOSTANIAN and CASSANDRA VINOGRAD, NBC News – (NBC) - Emergency crews raced Thursday morning to free the remaining miners trapped in an elevator more than 70 stories below ground in upstate New York, officials said.

By 8:40 a.m. ET, all 17 were freed following the "major rescue" at the Cargill salt mine in Lansing.

The workers had been trapped in an elevator 900 feet down an access shaft, the company said.

A crane has been brought in to assist with extricating the miners, according to the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response. It said the trapped workers had been given radios and supplies.

The miners were starting their shift and heading underground Wednesday night when the elevator got stuck, according to the company which owns the site.

Mark Klein, a spokesman for Cargill, said no one was injured when the incident occurred around 10 p.m. ET.

The company has been in "constant contact" with the 17 and rescue teams had been able to give the stranded workers water, he added.

Klein said that once the crane arrives, it will lower down a basket to carry out miners two to three at a time.

The elevator has safety brakes to hold it in place and the cause of malfunction is under investigation, he added.

Cargill purchased the mining rights in 1970 to what was previous Cayuga Rock Salt's site.

The mine employs around 200 people and mostly makes road salt but is also under the Diamond Crystal name as residential de-icing salt, according to Cargill.