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Thursday, June 21 12:00 AM ET

Five Workers Trapped in Data Mining Accident

By Brian Briggs

New York, NY - Five workers were trapped in their cubicle while data mining at the research firm Thompson, Thompson and Gowhoopie. The last communication with the workers was an instant message that asked for “sandwiches from Gino's.” After that, it's believed the workers battery-back up system failed and left them without any means to contact the surface.

“These guys were working on a dangerous area of demographics, so there's not telling what set off the collapse. It could've been anything, from a rogue statistical model to a Nerf-gun battle,” said Thomas Thompson, a partner in the firm.

Alan Barkman, who leads the rescue team, said, “These guys have plenty of air and bagels, so they should be able to survive until we can rip through the partitions with our chainsaw. The real danger for these guys is panic when they realize their deadline is approaching and they aren't getting any work done. We're trying to keep them calm.”

This is the second data mining accident this year. The first, at a consulting firm in Denver, claimed the lives of two market researchers after caffeine supplies ran out.

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Critics are blaming the Bush administration for lax oversight on safety procedures. Senator Charles Schumer from New York said, “This administration has allowed companies to continue data mining using unstable databases and faulty customer models. It's no wonder that accidents are on the rise.”

A laser-pointer vigil was being held in Central Park for the trapped workers.

Scott Small contributed to this story.

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