Actually, they are a victim of the advances in technology. Until farily recently, you couldn't mine to the depths they are working at in coal. Newer equipment has allowed coal extraction at depths that were not attainable in times past. But coal is a naturally frangible substance, meaning that it breaks up easily, and as a result the walls and ceilings are not able to handle movement and pressure that other types of mines encounter. Working at deeper depths adds to the pressure that the shafts and tunnels have to bear, and they are exceeding their safety limits.
A second issue here is something that we dealt with in aircraft firefighting and personnel rescue, and that's the laws of diminishing returns. There was a post Vietnam era study that found that in a cras, you might rescue the pilot from an aircraft, but kill 6-7 other people in doing so. The rewards of rescuing one person was negated by the loss of the others. The firefighting rules were revised to reflect this, and now you fight the fire and get it out before you make the pilot rescue, rather than knock down the minimal amount of flame and rescue while the fire is still raging. In fact, it's little known but the FAA guidelines regarding firefighting of a plane call for putting out the fire, and making the assumption that anyone who can get off the plan will do so under their own power.
Of course, many firefighters, self included, always tended to regard these rules with a bit of disregard, knowing that we were still going to make efforts to get the pilots or passengers out, but there is a law of diminishing returns, and in the case of this mine, I suspect that they have reached it. I'm sorry for the miners that were trapped, but risking more lives on the slim odds that they are still alive is a no win situation. May they rest in peace.