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The trapped miners

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Faster horses

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No one has touched on this subject, but I feel so bad for everyone involved in this tragedy. The families of the deceased lost their loved ones, not once, but twice.

I realize mistakes happen, but this was a mistake of gigantic proportions. It also sounds like that particular mine did not have a good safety record.

A lot of lives have been changed forever.
 

Turkey Track Bar

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You know FH I was just thinking the same thing.

I was raised in a mining community with a fairly large coal mine just up the road from my folks place. Mining accidents are always scary---

Those folks are in my thoughts and prayers, and I can't imagine the pain they are going through. I hope the 13th miner who survived makes it---

TTB
 

MsSage

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TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. - A top coal company official expressed regret Wednesday that the families of the 12 dead miners were mistakenly led to believe for three hours that their loved ones were alive.

“In the process of being cautious, we allowed the jubilation to go on longer than it should have,” said a choked-up Ben Hatfield, chief executive of mine owner International Coal Group.

Hatfield said the initial mistake resulted from a miscommunication among the rescue crews. Another ICG executive, vice president Gene Kitts, suggested that the misunderstanding resulted because the rescuers who reached the victims in the mine were wearing full-face oxygen masks and used radios to report their findings to their base.

Hatfield said that overnight, after it appeared that the miners may not be alive after all, the company sent word that the initial report of 12 survivors might have been wrong. But he said the message never got to the family members at the time.
He said the mine company did the best it could under extreme stress and exhaustion, and the owners “sincerely regret” that the families were left to believe for so long their loved ones were alive.

Most survived the explosion
According to officials, most of the 13 coal miners trapped in the explosion on Monday morning survived the blast itself, then retreated deeper into the mine and hung up a curtain-like barrier to keep out toxic gases while they waited to be rescued.


The sole survivor, Randal McCloy, was in critical condition with a collapsed lung and dehydration but no sign of brain damage or carbon monoxide poisoning after being trapped for more than 42 hours, a doctor said. At 27, McCloy was one of the youngest in the group.

The last of the 12 bodies were taken out of the mine at midmorning.

One of the dead was found at least 700 feet from where the others had barricaded themselves in the maze-like mine, officials said. Hatfield said the miner was apparently killed by the force of the blast.

The cause of death for the other men was not immediately disclosed. But McCoy and the 11 others did as they were trained to do, and huddled behind a fabric barrier they had set up to keep out carbon monoxide gas, which had been detected in deadly concentrations inside the mine, Hatfield and state officials said.

The fabric — designed specifically for use as a gas barrier in an accident — was stretched across an area about 20 feet wide, Hatfield said.

Also, each of the miners in the barricaded area had a breathing apparatus that purifies the air and had been able to use it, according to mine officials.

How long they survived was not immediately disclosed. But on Tuesday morning, rescuers drilled a narrow hole near the spot and got no response when they banged on a steel pipe and listened for an answer.

It was the nation’s deadliest coal mining disaster in more than four years.

Families furious
Late Tuesday night, families began streaming out of the church, yelling “They’re alive!” The church bells began ringing and families embraced, as politicians proclaimed word of the apparent rescue a miracle. Gov. Joe Manchin among those who announced there were 12 survivors.

But the families’ joy instantly turned to fury when they found out that 12 were dead.

When the bad news was delivered to the families, “there was no apology. There was no nothing. It was immediately out the door,” said Nick Helms, son of miner Terry Helms, one of the dead.

Chaos broke out in the church and a fight started. About a dozen state troopers and a SWAT team were positioned along the road near the church because police were concerned about violence. Witnesses said one man had to be wrestled to the ground when he lunged for mining officials.

“I can only say there was no one who did anything intentionally other than risk their lives to save their loved ones,” Manchin told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“No one can say anything about that would make anything any better,” he said. “Just a horrible situation.”

Survivor in critical condition
McCloy was reported to be unconscious but moaning when he arrived at the hospital. He was in the intensive care unit at West Virginia University’s Ruby Memory Hospital at Morgantown. Doctors said he was under sedation and on a ventilator to help with his breathing.

“He responds to stimuli and that’s good,” Dr. Lawrence Roberts said. Most of the other miners were in their 50s, and doctors said McCloy’s youth may have helped him survive.
Words from Bush
Charles Green, McCloy’s father-in-law, told ABC that when he found out his son-in law was the only survivor, “I was still devastated. My whole family’s heart goes out to them other families.”

President Bush said the entire nation mourns the loss, and he saluted the rescuers “who risked their lives to save those miners for showing such courage.”

The miners had been trapped 260 feet down in the Sago Mine, which is shaped like a large backward “F” and situated about 100 miles northeast of Charleston. As rescue workers tried to reach the men, families waited at the Sago Baptist Church during a grueling vigil.

Explosion to be investigated
State and federal officials said they were launching investigations into the cause of the blast. Coal mine explosions are typically caused by buildups of naturally occurring methane gas or highly combustible coal dust in the air.



David Dye, who heads the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said the investigation will include “how emergency information was relayed about the trapped miners’ conditions.”

The explosion was West Virginia’s deadliest coal mining accident since 1968, when 78 men — including Manchin’s uncle — died in an explosion at a mine in Marion County, an hour’s drive from here. Nineteen bodies remain entombed in the mountain. It was that disaster that prompted Congress to pass the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

It was the nation’s worst coal mining disaster since a pair of explosions tore through a mine in Brookwood, Ala., on Sept. 23, 2001, killing 13.

Manchin, who had earlier said that the state believed in miracles, tried to focus on the news that one had survived. “We’re clinging to one miracle when we were hoping for 13,” he said.
 

MsSage

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I know a bunch of people whos families have moved from WV to get away from the mining but still have family there.
The thing that bothers me is the safety violations. There is NO EXCUSS.
My heart breaks for the families. All I can offer them is my thoughts and prayers.
 

Mike

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Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries. Farmers are at very high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries. Farming is one of the few industries in which the families (who often share the work and live on the premises) are also at risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries.

* Approximately 1,859,000 full-time workers were employed in production agriculture in the U.S. in 2003.

* An estimated 1.08 million children and adolescents under 20 years of age resided on farms in 2001, with about 593,000 of these youth performing work on the farms. In addition to the youth who live on farms, over 400,000 children and adolescents were hired to work on U.S. farms in 2001.


* On average, 103 children are killed annually on farms (1990-1996). Approximately 40 percent of these deaths were work-related.


* In 2001, an estimated 22,600 children and adolescents were injured on farms; 8,400 of these injuries were due to farm work.

* In an average year, 110 American farm workers are crushed to death by tractor rollovers (1992-2000).


* Every day, about 228 agricultural workers suffer lost-work-time injuries, and about 5% of these result in permanent impairment.

In FY 1990, Congress directed NIOSH to develop an extensive agricultural safety and health program to address the high risks of injuries and illnesses experienced by workers and families in agriculture. NIOSH funds research and prevention programs at university centers in 20 states. These programs conduct research on injuries associated with different farm operations, as well as pesticide exposure, pulmonary disease, musculoskeletal disorders, hearing loss, and stress.
 

greg

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I've worked in a surface coal mine for 24 years and been part of the mine rescue team for 22, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families,friends and co-workers.Greg
 

the_jersey_lilly_2000

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Terrible thing to have happen, our thoughts and prayers go out to each and every member of the families. Hope they find a cause/solution to safety problems so they can possibly prevent it from happening again.
 

cert

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Steel and coal is a BIG part of why folk here in the Ohio valley are employed.

I have good friends that work in the coal mines and my hubby works in a steel mill. With out those 2 industries alot of good honest hard working people would be unemployed.

It is dangerous. They all know that. This is horrible. Everytime something like that happens so close to home it really makes you stop and think. The govenor of WV lost family in a mine several years ago. He understands.

The Independent Miners Union has sold those folks out more than once. The miners can't go to the union for help because they will not listen. The miners cannot afford to strike for better working conditions because the union will lock them out in a second.

Just one viscious seemingly endless cycle. Please keep the miners families in your prayers.
 

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