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Old 01-04-2006   #1
Goldiroxxor
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Grief, anger as all but one miner found dead

Initial reports indicated 12 had survived

TALLMANSVILLE, West Virginia (CNN) -- For three hours overnight, families of a dozen trapped West Virginia miners thought their loved ones were coming home as church bells rang to welcome them.

But by 3 a.m. Wednesday -- as one critically ill survivor was rushed to a hospital -- families learned that their thankful jubilation was premature.

There had been a tragic "miscommunication," said mine company chief Ben Hatfield. Twelve of the 13 trapped miners had not made it. They were dead.

Anna Casto, who lost her cousin, angrily disagreed with Hatfield's use of the term "miscommunication."

"No, he strictly told us they was alive," Casto said. "Three hours later he come back and said they wasn't."

"We want to know why, and how people can get by with this," she said.

"I just want that immediate family to get some kind of satisfaction, to get some kind of answers."

Casto said the tragedy has shaken the faith of some in the community. "We have got some of us ... saying... that we don't even know if there is a Lord anymore," she said. "We had a miracle, and it was taken away from us."

3-hour delay

11:53 p.m. -- Church bells ring as reports first indicate that 12 miners have been found alive.


2:14 a.m. -- A man is rescued and taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition after being trapped underground for nearly 40 hours.


2:44 a.m. -- Miners' relatives say they had been told all but one of the miners were dead.


3:11 a.m. -- Hatfield, president and CEO of International Coal Group, which owns the Sago Mine, announces that despite previous reports, only one survivor was found in the mine.

Hatfield called it the "worst day of my life."

Critical condition
The sole survivor, Randal McCloy, 27, was in critical condition in intensive care Wednesday at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.

"He suffered some collapse of one of his lungs," said Dr. Larry Roberts. "And we're trying to reopen that and there's good progress there."

Roberts said McCloy was sedated and attached to a breathing tube, but was moving and responding to stimuli.

"We hope that we will try to awaken him later today or tomorrow," the doctor said.

'Who do we tell?'
Hatfield said he knew within 20 minutes that an error had been made and that not all 12 were alive, but said he did not inform jubilant family members.

"We couldn't correct the information without knowing more about it," he told reporters. "Let's put this in perspective -- who do we tell not to celebrate? All I knew is, there weren't 12 people that were alive. It was somewhere between 12 and zero."

Hatfield said he understood family members' anger.

"I'm not surprised or upset with them. They certainly have some basis for their frustration, having been put through this emotional roller-coaster. I wouldn't wish that on anyone."

Hatfield said the miscommunication occurred between rescue crews and the command center, causing the earlier erroneous reports.

Miners were alive after accident
Hatfield said it was apparent that the miners, who were found 13,000 feet into the mine, remained alive for a period of time following the explosion. They had built a "rough barricade structure," he said, and had donned their self-contained breathing apparatuses. The apparatuses held one hour of oxygen; Hatfield said he had no way of knowing how long the miners were alive.

The rescue team that found the miners was speaking to the command center over mine communication system on an open speaker audible to a number of people, Hatfield said. He noted the company made no formal announcement that the 12 were alive, but said he would not single out any rescuers, as they were trying to save the miners' lives.

"The honest answer is, we were devastated," he said. "It's sorrow beyond belief ... Welcome to the worst day of my life."

'Some wrong communications'
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin -- who flashed a thumbs-up on the steps of the church and said, "believe in miracles," after hearing the initial report that the 12 were alive -- called the situation "heart-wrenching."

He said he was in another room of the church with some family members when "we heard families in a euphoric state, and all the shouting and screaming and joyfulness." He asked what was happening, he said, and was told, "They found them. They're alive."

Manchin said he asked his communications people if they had confirmed that information, and they said no. But he was caught in the sea of jubilant relatives streaming out of the church, and the church bells began ringing, he said. He said he was "in a euphoric state, the same as they are."

It was about 20 minutes later, he said, when he also became aware of "some wrong communications." The delay in informing relatives, he said, came because officials were trying to get accurate information instead of adding to the confusion. He said he understood the family's pain, as his own uncle died in a 1968 mine accident.

"To put blame on anybody -- it's the wrong time, the wrong place," Manchin said. "Everybody has worked so hard. The rescue teams have worked around the clock. They've come from all over the country."
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Old 01-04-2006   #2
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People have been talking about this in school all day today.
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Old 01-04-2006   #3
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Thats sad
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Old 01-04-2006   #4
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That is really sad, and I feel sorry for the family's..My heart goes out to them!
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Old 01-04-2006   #5
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Yeah, its been going around school here alot also, and probably double because this is wv, one of my teachers says she knows someone related to one of the miners that died.
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Old 01-05-2006   #6
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But one funny thing came otu of this on Cnn yesterday. They were talkign to the survivors brother and he said that he couldn't talk because he was on an incubator. >.< He probably meant resperator. But I laughed good when he said incubator.
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Old 01-05-2006   #7
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*cough* yeah, it's a hazard that everyone that works in a coal mine is well aware of. It's one of those risks that the miner has to take, every time he goes underground. I mean it's still sad, but it's gonna happen again and again... it's just something that comes with mining.
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Old 01-05-2006   #8
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That doesnt really make it okay tho, setz...
anyways, my heart goes out to them and etc.
Im really dissapointed that people are blaming the media for the false information that the mining company put out. The company is going to get off the hook now because everybody is bitching at reporter...
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Old 01-05-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malicious Halfrican
The company is going to get off the hook now because everybody is bitching at reporter...
Oh no... not at all, more happens with the situation even when the news crews leave for their next story. The general consensus amongst people around here, is the mining company is at full fault for even letting that bit of mis-info out. Besides, the mine had a bad track record... so all in all, almost all aspects of the accident were the fault of the mining company. Not to mention we shouldn't be having damn thunderstorms in goddamn January...
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Old 01-05-2006   #10
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Oh, man. What a miscommunication.
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