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Rescue crews clinging to a mountainside struggled Wednesday to drill two narrow holes - one just 2-1/2 inches across, the other less than 9 inches - in a painfully slow effort to get air and food to six miners trapped in a cave-in. Officials held out hope that the men survived Monday's collapse and that emergency supplies would help keep them alive while other rescuers tried to punch their way through the rubble in the mine shaft and bring them out. The crews drilling the two parallel relief holes were more than halfway to their target with the smaller hole Wednesday evening, said Bob Murray, chairman of mine co-owner Murray Energy Corp. They could break through by Friday, he said. It could take at least seven days to actually reach the men and bring them out, Murray said.


About 273,600 people back in city

New Orleans' population has grown to about 273,600 people, or 60 percent of the number there before Hurricane Katrina hit nearly two years ago, a new report shows. Both the report from demographer Greg Rigamer and an earlier household estimate by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center show the city's population continuing to rebound. But Rigamer said he expects it will be "many years" before New Orleans hits its July 2005 population of 455,000 - if it ever does. Rigamer bases his estimates on utility hookups, and his figures have tracked closely with U.S. Census Bureau estimates.


Fire could burn into autumn

A wildfire near a resort town could continue into the fall unless it rains, even though work to restrain the blaze is showing results, fire managers said Wednesday. "We've got about a month and a half of this left," safety officer Scott Bates said Wednesday. "You guys have got to pace yourselves," he told firefighters, urging them to get plenty of rest. Fire commander Glen McNitt said the area usually doesn't see substantial rainfall until mid September and it was conceivable the fire could last until then. "This country will burn, and it will burn fast and furious," he said. The fire has charred more than 23 square miles since it started Friday about 50 miles northeast of Missoula. It was 10 percent contained as of Tuesday night. Some 1,500 homes are threatened by the fire, which was about 2 miles from Seeley Lake, a town of about 5,000 summer residents. Residents remained in Seeley Lake, but hundreds of outlying homes were evacuated.


Epoxy maker sued in Big Dig collapse

The company that provided the epoxy blamed in the fatal Big Dig tunnel collapse was indicted Wednesday in the death of a motorist crushed by ceiling panels. Powers Fasteners Inc. was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, Attorney General Martha Coakley said. The Brewster, N.Y.-based firm is the only company involved in the construction and design of the tunnel to be indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury, Coakley said, noting that the investigation remains open. A report from the National Transportation Safety Board released last month found the July 10, 2006, collapse could have been avoided if designers and construction crews had considered that the epoxy holding support anchors for the panels could slowly pull away over time.