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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Body Found in West Virginia Mine
Aired January 3, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the desperate search continues for the 13 coal miners trapped inside a West Virginia mine. We're on the scene for the very latest with their families and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
And welcome. We're having some audio trouble. Welcome back to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
COOPER: We have some breaking news. I am with a Red Cross official. Your name is Tamilia (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tamilia Swagger (ph).
COOPER: You just came from inside the church.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: What did they tell the -- who spoke?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a mine official.
COOPER: And what did he say to the family members?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That they had found one body confirmed dead but they can't identify him yet.
COOPER: What else did he say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That they was doing everything that they can to locate the others but they still had 12 missing.
COOPER: They've only been able to find one body?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: They have not been able to identify who that person is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at this time, no.
COOPER: What was the reaction of the family?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole -- everyone in the church is just devastated, really breaking down and taking attacks, panic attacks and I had to call in for emergency care to come in. COOPER: I understood that there are already 13 clergy members standing by, one for each family member, have you heard that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
COOPER: And you were inside the church, you heard this with your own ears?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: And why are you no longer in the church right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've come to find my husband to let him know what was going on.
COOPER: What happens now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well they said they're going to bring the body out and have a mine official to identify who he was and they would let them know who it was as soon as they found out.
COOPER: Did they say anything more about the continuing search for the other miners?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they said they're still looking. They're still going to keep looking, said it looked pretty good so far but they wasn't going to speculate because they didn't know.
COOPER: What do you mean it looked pretty good?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well they said that where they was supposed to be in a car or something that it was -- that they wasn't in there and he said maybe that's a good sign they went, you know, further back and just...
COOPER: So they're continuing to search for the 12 other miners you're saying?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other 12, yes.
COOPER: All right, I appreciate you coming out and telling us this. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you.
COOPER: That is the first word that we have had here. It is certainly the worst possible news for these families who have been waiting now for close to 40 hours.
Standing with us is Reverend Charles Olson from Somerset, Pennsylvania. He was involved in counseling families during the Quecreek mine incident. Reverend Olson, what do you say to family members in a time like this?
REV. CHARLES OLSON, GRACE METHODIST CHURCH: It's a difficult time. I just give them a hug, encourage them and help them to know that God cares for them and that God will be with them as they deal with this loss that is certainly devastating to them.
COOPER: It was obviously a very different end result with the Quecreek mine. What is the most important thing for families to do at a time like this for families who are waiting for word?
OLSON: In Quecreek we were very -- the families stayed very close together, not just like the spouses of the miners but parents and grandparents and all the pastors stayed close by and we just -- we just tried to be very supportive and let them know that regardless of what happened next we were going to be there for them and we were.
COOPER: CNN's Kimberly Osias is also standing by with us. Kimberly, you have talked to a lot of these families. You've been talking to them about what is going on inside that church. What are you hearing?
KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have indeed, Anderson. What I can tell you is there are a number of pastors and ministers that are waiting, waiting in case these families need to speak.
And, you heard one of the pastors just a little while ago speaking about the importance of sticking together. Well, as you well know in being here, Anderson, this is a community that definitely bands together and miners are truly a band of brothers.
Everybody seems to know somebody connected to these 13 men, whether it is at the local pizza joint when you go for a dinner or at the watering hole or at the hotel. Everybody feels connected. I mean obviously this is a tremendous source of income and revenue for this city but moreover I mean these families fresh on their minds are these men and whatever they can do.
And, I am told by one of the friends that is up there in this church that they are keeping the church open. They will keep it open all night if need be. They do take breaks. They walk outside.
They have a number of campfires up. They're warming their hands. They are all eating together, breaking bread. And, as you know, it has certainly been a roller coaster of emotions and they are regaling one another with some funny stories. They do need to laugh of all of these men.
COOPER: Reverend Olson, do people question their faith in a moment like this?
OLSON: No, I don't think so. I think more so they -- they really do -- they cling to their faith. They feel that it's very important to them and that's where they get their hope and their faith -- in their faith, the hope that it's going to be better.
COOPER: There have been so much talk about miracles tonight in West Virginia. Do you believe a miracle is still possible here?
OLSON: Oh, yes I do. I'm sorry to hear about the death that you reported already but we're certainly praying that the other 12 can come out and that there will be 12 more miracles alive there, yes. COOPER: You've worked with miners, as I said. You worked on the Quecreek mine counseling families. Explain. Mining goes back generations in a lot of these families and these are tough people, the miners. I mean it is a hard way of life. Talk a little bit about the experiences you've had with mining families.
OLSON: Well, they're dedicated. It's in their blood. The mining is in their blood like any other occupation and many times there are two and three generations of people that have been in the mines.
I know I've talked to some of the Quecreek miners and, you know, even after the experience of being trapped they were ready to go back and some of them did go back to the mine because -- partly because that's all they know but the other thing is that, you know, that's their life and they're ready to risk all the dangers that go along with being underground in those mines.
COOPER: Kimberly, what is the latest that you have on the rescue effort?
OSIAS: I'm sorry, Anderson, could you repeat your question?
COOPER: What is the latest information you have on the rescue effort?
OSIAS: That those rescue efforts are continuing that there are teams that are going down five to eight men and, of course, you know about those sites that they have been drilling in several different areas.
Most recently that sort of second left that you hear them talking about, that first left, when you talk about the shaft we are talking about, you know, between 10,000 to 13,000 feet that these folks are down or believed to be down. Now, in that second left that is where those miners are believed to have been trapped.
Now those six were able to escape from the first left. Now, Anderson, I did talk to one man up there that says that of those six one man actually said he saw this blaze, this inferno go by him so much so that he actually was almost blinded. He has been treated at the hospital for that.
But, you know, these rescue efforts, I mean obviously for these families nothing can happen fast enough and despite the fact that he is having visual problems he wants to get back down in there. And, you heard the Reverend talking about truly this is a way of life for these folks and despite all this they just want to be a part. It is a culture.
COOPER: We are trying to get confirmation of the information that one Red Cross official came out and told us. We are waiting for an official press conference from representatives from the mining company. They are the ones -- have been the ones who have been holding press conferences heretofore getting out the information. First they give it to the mining families. Then they give it to the media.
The last word we had had, the last press conference we had had, and Kimberly you were listening in to this press conference, was around 5:20 p.m. this afternoon. At that point, they said they were about 11,300 feet into the mine. They believed they were within 1,000 to 2,000 feet of the miners.
They believe that in the next, what they said was three to five hours then, which was at 5:20 so that would have been anywhere from 8:20 to about 10:20, they believe they would be making contact with the miners.
But the progress really has been made, Kimberly, by the people on the ground. What happened to those drills? They had three drills going at one point. Why wasn't more progress made with those?
OSIAS: (AUDIO GAP) something from that drill, a vibration and, of course, they are all very well trained and sort of tapping or giving a special kind of code or a signal, nothing there, and it is really their best guess, Anderson, on where these folks are.
So they take these sophisticated maps and they look at it and they sort of redirect and obviously they want to pinpoint as best as they can where they believe these men are. They don't want to cause any kind of debris to fall down in there.
And, in the last drilling we had actually some explosive video, our crews were out there and got that third drill site, them actually going down and doing that. It was a little bit ahead of schedule actually and still no word.
COOPER: They also had a robotic device they had hoped would make some great progress but it basically got stuck in the mud, didn't it?
OSIAS: Yes, that's exactly what I have heard. They were hoping to get it down even farther. At my last check it was about I think 360 to 400 feet down and, of course, as you well know, with those cameras they actually have the ability to see out about 20 feet or so in front and to take some kinds of pictures and they were hoping to get any kind of information and bring it back.
And, you know, obviously this is a very painstaking and slow and tedious process. They are trying to do everything they can, utilizing the human power as well as all the technology tools as well.
COOPER: All right. Here is what we know at this moment right before we take a short break. One Red Cross official has told us that they have found the body of one miner.
I'm told we're having a press conference. Let's go to that now.
BEN HATFIELD, CEO OF SAGO MINE OWNER INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: ...permanent ventilation seals that had been constructed across the main entries just in by the entrance to the two left section have been breached by substantial explosive force that apparently originated from within the sealed area. Mine rescue crews have also located the body of a miner near the belt drive at the entrance to the second left section, which is roughly 11,250 feet from the mine portal.
Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to identify and confirm the deceased miner's identity. Plans are to bring the body out as soon as possible and identification may precede removal of the body.
The mine rescue crews are still operating under mask in rescue mode and are continuing to look for survivors. The man bus used by the 12-man production crew has been spotted on the rail track approximately 700 feet beyond the first body location but none of the passengers have yet been found.
It appears that the passengers exited the man bus under their own power and made their way toward the intake escape way but we do not know from there at this point where they've gone.
We've reached the furthest extent that we can with the mine rescue crews under their current apparatus. They can only extend this investigation under mask, if you will, under their self breathing apparatus for about 1,000 feet. At that point, they have to move up their base ventilation system.
So, efforts are underway now to restore the ventilation in and around the mouth of the second left and allow the miners to go further into the mine and confirm the location of our remaining employees.
So we have one body located, 12 people missing. They apparently exited their portal bus, the vehicle they were riding under their own power and at this point have not been located.
We brought the map to give you just a quick view of where these events are taking place. I apologize for the nature of the presentation but we'll try to make it simple.
The ventilation seals that have been breached by the explosion are in this area near the top of the main line. The portal, the mine entrance is back here at the lower left-hand corner of the map.
We've been coming in with rescue crews along this entire corridor to open up the ventilation system and access our employees. It's been our belief throughout this episode that our employees are in this second left location.
That continues to be our belief, although now there's indication that they may have exited this area walking toward the outside but we do not know at this point where they are.
Significant work will have to be done on the ventilation system at this location before we can go all the way to the faces and confirm the location of the employees, so it may be another three to four hours before we have a further update.
With that, I'll try to briefly address any questions that you may pose. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How encouraging -- how encouraging is it that these miners left that bus on their own power?
HATFIELD: That's a very good thing. In fact, it's also a good thing that the portal bus wasn't devastated. It wasn't damaged. It wasn't thrown off the track. It simply stopped and the employees, the production crew appear to have exited under their own power.
So that's yet another glimmer of hope but it raises a lot of question as to where the employees might have gone. The production crew should have had an hour's worth of oxygen on their belt system and that should have gotten them to the outside so we don't now what's been the hold up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was the body on the bus or was it beside the bus?
HATFIELD: Wait, just a moment. The body was about 700 feet from the bus. This appears to have been an employee that was working along the belt line near the entrance to the section. The body was located here. The production crew and their portal bus was up in this area. The working face is up here, so the body that's been located is about 700 feet from where the bus was located.
HATFIELD: Yes, yes the body, yes to answer your question that employee was apparently working on the belt line and was not associated with the production crew.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it was fire boss probably?
HATFIELD: We're not certain at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it be that?
HATFIELD: It could be. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a possibility that these rescuers will get to a point in that mine where it's simply too dangerous for them to be in there and, if so, then what?
HATFIELD: We haven't confronted that situation to this point. Again, the delay that we're encountering at this point is simply that we've reached the furthest extent that our equipment will go without moving up the ventilation system.
We restore the ventilation structure as we move deeper into the mine and the crews, the rescue crews can even extend about 1,000 feet beyond that under their mask with full self-contained breathing arrangements, so that is the limitation that's now causing us to have to go back to remedy the ventilation where these seals were breached and then go further in to the mine. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you envision any possibility, any scenario where it's simply too dangerous and you have to say, hey, they have to get out of there?
HATFIELD: That kind of scenario could certainly arise but we have not seen any indication to this point that that's going to be the case here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about the condition of the body that was located and did it appear that he was injured by the blast or maybe fell victim to the toxic fumes you talked about?
HATFIELD: I don't have any information at all on the condition of the body. As you can I'm sure appreciate our rescue teams are in rescue mode. They identify a body. If the person is deceased, they simply tag it, confirm the location, report it to the outside, move quickly toward the face trying to find the remaining employees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the distance between the opening of the mine to where this gentleman's body was found?
HATFIELD: Approximately 11,200 feet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the quality of the air?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you describe what the damage would have looked like to the ventilation systems?
HATFIELD: What the damage would look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HATFIELD: The seals, these are permanent ventilation seals. They're somewhat different than the stoppings that we've been talking about. Ventilation stoppings are constructed in the normal course as mine tunnels are advanced to separate intake air from return air.
But ventilation seals are constructed to separate an abandoned area from the rest of the active mine, so they are normally permanent structures that are much more substantial than just the normal ventilation stoppings. So, an explosive force that would completely devastate a set of seals in that fashion would indeed be a very substantial explosive force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't help but to say that 11,200 feet is the same estimate that you gave where the rescuers had got to at the last press conference. Did they find him just right after that press conference? Did they find him right after your information?
HATFIELD: Again, 11,200 feet is the depth from the portal but there are eight different tunnels and the body happened to be located in the belt tunnel, not the intakes that we were talking about earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What went through your mind when you heard there was this body discovered? HATFIELD: I don't even know how to respond to that. It's a -- it's a nightmare. It's the worst news we can possibly deliver to families that are anxiously awaiting good news, so we're devastated by it. The families are devastated. There's a lot of anxiety because we haven't yet identified the employee, so our heart and prayers at this point are with the families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carbon monoxide levels?
HATFIELD: At this point, they're somewhat elevated as we've approached the area where the men appear to have abandoned their rail transportation. I think we've seen indications in the range of 300 to 400 parts per minute or parts per million of CO in the belt entry. Over on the intake it's more like 30 parts per million, so in the intake air it's near normal but in the track entry it's elevated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the fact that conditions are such that these rescuers are now using oxygen because the air is so bad apparently what are you thoughts, is there any way that these guys where you think they may be could have found clean, breathable air, safe air?
HATFIELD: I don't want to speculate because, again, we've been through that discussion. Our hope is that they -- that they found an area and secured it, built barricades and were able to survive but we just don't know those answers at this point, so I'd rather not speculate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said the explosive force came from within the seal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does that mean?
HATFIELD: That means there was an ignition in the abandoned area, in the sealed area that should normally be an inert environment and normally thereby protected from explosion, so we're not sure what happened back there but somehow a fuel source and an ignition came together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you done with the drilling and focusing on the rescue teams now?
HATFIELD: The drilling is simply suspended because the crews were making more progress, the rescue crews were moving quickly toward where the employees were located and that was our quickest means of getting in, so the drill holes were essentially our fall back on getting information. So, those activities are suspended only because we're moving forward faster with another mode.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How tough is this news for you to deliver to the family that is your company?
HATFIELD: It's about the hardest thing I've ever had to do but we remain hopeful that there will be some good news before it's all over with but hopes certainly are stretched thin at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there another exit? When you said they might be making their way towards an exit when they left their bus is there some way they could have tunneled out from there?
HATFIELD: No, it would not have been practical to tunnel out. They would simply have to move through the existing tunnels toward the mine portal. There are several different routes they could have used to come to the outside but, again, because we've come from the outside toward them and we've not encountered anything to this point that indicates their presence, we're somewhat mystified as to exactly what may have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of linear feet of entry that's still away and stretching what kind of distance are we talking in total in terms of linear feet of entry?
HATFIELD: Well, I would estimate that we're probably about 4,000 feet from the production faces, 3,000 to 4,000 more or less with our current air base, so that could be as much as 70,000, 80,000 linear feet I guess, nine entries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you point to that on the map? Can you show where the body was found and where you are still searching, where you're focusing this evening?
HATFIELD: The body was found here in the belt entry near -- this is the two left section. This is where the production crew was going to work on Monday morning. So, one body was found here. The portal bus was about 700 feet deeper into the mine and that's where the production crew apparently abandoned the bus and started moving toward the outside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you show where they would be moving to the outside in your opinion?
HATFIELD: Well, ideally they would have come over to the intake side and started following this green line all the way up towards the mine portal. That would have -- that's what we call the primary escape way, the intake escape way. That would have given us hopefully a very good outcome but because we have moved in on that course and we haven't crossed them yet, we don't know where they are. It's possible that someone may have become confused and gone up into the old works. We just don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you say that was the abandoned part where you...
HATFIELD: This is the abandoned area that had been sealed off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK and that's where there are indications the explosion originated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or occurred. HATFIELD: The explosion apparently originated behind the seals in this area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that it originated there in an inert area what does that tell you about what may have caused this?
HATFIELD: It's really too early to speculate. I'd rather leave that to the investigation that lies ahead once we've done our best to try to get our people out safely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ben, can you tell us the body that was found, the victim who was found, any indication that that person tried to get the emergency equipment or use the emergency equipment he had with him?
HATFIELD: I do not have any information on that. I just don't know the answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the rescue teams encountering debris?
HATFIELD: No, not to this point. I've not had any reports of substantial debris. Again, when we have more information we will bring it to you. At this point, we're expecting possibly a two to four-hour hiatus while we reestablish ventilation where these seals were blown out and then try to move forward with the rescue crews. It takes a few hours for them to move their air base forward so they can safely explore deeper into the mine, so that's what's ongoing at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any way you can just explain to the people on simple terms that are not miners what exactly that means, that the seals bust (ph) and things of that nature?
HATFIELD: Well, the seals being busted simply means an area that was -- that was low on oxygen and possibly had other gases accumulated and has now been opened into that environment because the seals were blown out.
So, you have the problem of the bad air that was behind the seals now being opened to the mine environment and also the combustion gases from the explosion being in the mine environment, so all this basically puts more bad stuff in the air that creates the hazards that our self rescuer -- that our rescue crews, if you will, are trying to manage around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any, I mean is there anything outside of the mine that you can compare this to that people can maybe understand a little bit more?
HATFIELD: I don't have a good example that makes it simple but in short we're not dealing with a situation of a roof cave in or collapse or anything of that nature. We're dealing with a situation where because of an explosion, because of breached seals the environment, the breathing environment became toxic. The ventilation system was disrupted and our employees were no doubt trying to find a safe way to exit the mine. That's all we know at this point. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hatfield, how many total employees work at this mine under normal conditions?
HATFIELD: Gene? I'm told it's about 145 people. Again, we will give you more information when we have it. I need to get back to the crews and do our best to provide guidance in the command center. So, thank you for your attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
COOPER: We've been listening to Ben Hatfield, the president and CEO of ICG Mines. So, we're going to take a short break and tell you the latest information as soon as we come back. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
COOPER: And welcome back to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Anderson Cooper.
A fast developing story, as we speak breaking news. We can tell you that now it has been confirmed one person, one miner has been found dead. They were found about 700 feet away from what they call the man bus, the battery-operated vehicle which brings the miners in.
The good news, say mine officials, is that no one else has been found and no one has been found. It appears that all the miners exited that man bus which would seem to indicate perhaps that they may have been able to get somewhere after the explosion or perhaps even before the explosion took place.
It didn't look like their personal effects, according to the governor -- we have just heard that their personal effects were in the man bus, the mine official saying that is some cause for perhaps some optimism. But certainly the headline at this moment is that one body has been found. They have not identified this miner.
Kimberly Osias is standing by as well listening to the press conference we just heard. What did you take away, Kimberly?
OSIAS: Well, you know, I think it's bittersweet, Anderson, quite frankly. I mean these families are grappling with the fact that they don't know who. One of those 13 is now dead. They are praying that it is not their loved one but, again, I mean they know these people very, very well. It is quite collegial and it is a family.
And, you know, speaking of these families, we have been here two days now and have become quite close to some of these families. And I just spoke with Becky Rogers (ph). She is the sister of 56-year-old Jerry Groves. Now, he has been working down on these lines for 25 years.
And, Anderson, as you well know, they are a very experienced team down there. They have probably a mean experience of 23 years. I think the least is three years and it goes all the way up. Now, she said to me she felt kind of emboldened because the area where this person was found, the belt line, where that is not where Jerry Groves was working. So that is positive news, and his niece came by and just said to me, "Look, we are keeping the faith, we are going back to that church. We are praying, we are keeping vigil."
COOPER: I want to bring in Vicki Smith, a reporter from the "Associated Press" who has been covering this story on this side, really from the beginning. Emmanuel (ph), if you could pan out. Vicki, what have you been hearing lately? What is the headline as far as you're concerned, besides the one person who has been found?
VICKI SMITH, REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I think Kimberly is right. I mean, this is the worst possible news for one family, it's their worst possible nightmare. What really is quite surprising is that the man bus was undamaged and that -- that's good news. That indicates...
COOPER: ... because why? Why?
SMITH: Because it indicates that they were not blown out of the car. That in fact, they may have gotten out of their own volition. There were no burns, there was no damage to the car. And that indicates to the families and to people who know this business pretty well that perhaps these people got out on their own and went to a safe place.
COOPER: The governor of West Virginia just made a statement saying that the explosion happened in a different way than they had thought. A, did you hear that? And B, what does that mean?
SMITH: I didn't hear that. But as I understand, they're not really sure how this explosion occurred. I mean they still have two theories. And one of those involved a lightning strike, one of those involved methane gas. The company has been repeatedly asked what caused this explosion and they have not decided. I don't think they know.
COOPER: I want to talk about the safety record of this company as well. We're going to take a short break. Just stand by, a lot more here from the scene. The headline is, one body has been found. The search continues though for 12 other miners right now below the ground, 260 feet. We'll be right back. LARRY KING LIVE continues in a moment.
COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Anderson Cooper sitting in for Larry King in Sago, West Virginia. We have had the saddest news possible this evening so far.
At the top of this hour, we learned that one miner -- the body of one miner has been found. The miner has not yet been identified. So the family has not yet been notified.
But all the mining families were notified privately by mine officials just a short time before 9:00. We're joined right now about Rachel Day who is the daughter of the pastor of the Sago Baptist Church. This is the church where all these mining families have been gathering over the last two days or so. How are the families doing?
RACHEL DAY, DAUGHTER OF PASTOR: Well, as of right now, they're still holding on to that last thread of hope because they still know there's still 12 more to fine. So they're going to hold out hoping that there's still that last chance.
COOPER: We've heard tales of what this is like inside that church right now. I mean, I've heard people at one point broke out singing "Amazing Grace."
DAY: Yes, actually, we started out even yesterday, just singing. Music is really soothing for people around here. So we just had congregational songs, just traditional hymns to mellow everybody out. And I think just for that bleak moment, it made everybody forget about what was happening outside of the church.
COOPER: Do you think people's faith is strengthened in a time like this?
DAY: Absolutely. Because through trials, it makes your faith stronger. Because if you don't have that to get through, then you don't really know what you believe in until you go through it. Then you really enforce, OK, I really do believe now.
COOPER: And you're open all night? I mean, you've had let people sleep in there last night, I assume you're going to have people sleeping there. What kind of provisions are there?
DAY: Right. Red Cross has everything. There's tons food and drinks. And they have blankets and pillows and just everything to accommodate them with. There's plenty of counseling, you know if people want to talk or pray. The altar's been open for everybody.
COOPER: I understand that the Red Cross has brought in one clergy member for each of the 13 families. Have you heard that?
DAY: No, I haven't heard that. The only thing I know is just some local pastors have been coming in and out within the past few days, just to be able to help relieve some of the others. And, of course to have more available to talk with the other family members.
COOPER: All right, Rachel, thank you very much for being with us. Our best to your dad and to the entire congregation.
DAY: No problem, thank you.
COOPER: Thank you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you. Rachel Day's father is the pastor of the Sago Baptist Church. We're joined by Joe Sbaffoni of Somerset, Pennsylvania. He's the director of the Bureau of Mine Safety for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
He's worked in the mine industry since 1970. He was involved in the rescue operation at Quecreek back in 2002. Joe, terrible news tonight that one miner has been found. I assumed you listened to the press conference. What else did you hear? The fact that these 12 other miners have not been found, I guess is good news, yes?
JOE SBAFFONI, DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU OF MINE SAFETY: Well the fact that the piece of equipment that they were riding on appears not to be damaged is a good indication. There's still the chance that they were able to travel to an area and barricade themselves and could stop -- possibly still be alive.
COOPER: When you say barricade themselves, that's a term we've heard a lot over the last few days. What exactly does that mean?
SBAFFONI: Well, you know, normally the miners would try to escape the mine. If that escape would be blocked because of smoke, heavy smoke or hazardous conditions, they would try to find an area where they felt there was good air and they would try to isolate themselves from that hazardous condition. Probably first using temporary canvas and wood posts and then if the material was there like blocks, they would try to build block walls to isolate themselves from the dangerous atmosphere.
COOPER: The dangerous atmosphere we're talking about high levels of carbon monoxide. In this case, there were lethally high levels taken early this morning. What does carbon monoxide do? Can you see it? What does it smell like?
SBAFFONI: Well there isn't much of a smell, but it's very poisonous. It's very common after an explosion of fire. It is a product of incomplete combustion.
COOPER: Miners carry with them this pouch that has oxygen for about an hour. How long do the lamps on their helmets last for?
SBAFFONI: Well, you know, a normal charge on a cap light can go any anywhere from eight to 10 to 12 hours. If they are together, I'm sure they're trying to conserve the lights by only using one light when they need it to try to make the lights last.
COOPER: We're also joined on the phone by Mark Radomsky. He's mine safety expert with Penn State's Department of Energy. He's working in the coal mines and advised in the aftermath of the Quecreek flood disaster and rescue as well. His grandfather was killed in a mining disaster.
Mark, thanks for being with us. Your thoughts tonight upon hearing that one miner has been found, the body of one miner has been found? OK, Mark -- we'll try to get in touch with Mark, he'll be joining us shortly on the phone.
Joe, what happens now? I mean, we're told that the rescue operations continue, but they're having to take a break in the forward motion of the rescue effort in order to kind of regroup and get their oxygen supplies replenished. Why is that?
SBAFFONI: Well I think what they're trying to do -- they extended their limits of how far they can advance with their lifelines and so forth, the rescue teams. So now what they're going to have to do is advance up their fresh air base so that they can start to explore into the mine more.
COOPER: All right. We're standing by. We have a lot more to report here from the scene of this mine accident. One miner has been found. We'll be back with our panel in just a moment. A special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE MAUSER, RELATIVE OF TRAPPED MINER: I'd just like for everybody to keep praying for everybody's family and my family. And just keep their spirits up. And just pray that there's one last miracle out there, that these guys all come out alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And welcome back. This is a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Anderson Cooper. Joining us on our panel, we have the Reverend Charles Olson, Somerset, Pennsylvania. He counseled the families of the Quecreek mine incident back in July of 2002. We also have Joe Sbaffoni. He's the director of Bureau of Mine Safety and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. And Mark Radomsky, mine safety expert with Penn State as well.
Mark, you're joining us for the first time on the phone. Your thoughts upon hearing that one miner has been found dead?
MARK RADOMSKY, DIRECTOR, FIELD SERVICES, PENN STATE U.: It's certainly discouraging news. And we just have to remain hopeful that the other miners can be found alive.
COOPER: How good a sign, Mark, is it that this man bus, this battery-powered device which brings miners into the mine was found intact, still on the rails, and then the miners seemed to have been able to exit it without a problem?
RADOMSKY: Well, I mean, you look at the damage from the explosion, and although the permanent stoppings, which would be a solid wall, were blown out, the man bus seems to be in good shape. So it's a positive sign, but you can't read a lot into it.
COOPER: Joe Sbaffoni, the governor of West Virginia said a short time ago that the explosion came from a sealed-off area in the mine. What do you make of that?
SBAFFONI: Well, it's not uncommon for areas of the mines to be sealed after mining is completed in those areas. And when you seal them, there is no ventilation in those areas. So you could have a buildup of methane. Still, they're going to have to determine what caused the methane to ignite.
COOPER: Mark, what do you think? I mean, there has been talk about lightning, there has been talk about the fact that this plant was idle for two days over the weekend. Does the idling play a role?
RADOMSKY: Well, it could play a role. But we're just going to have to wait for the investigation, you know, before we really know.
COOPER: Mark, what is the greatest hope for these miners at this point? I mean, is it just that they've barricaded themselves somewhere and they're just holding out?
RADOMSKY: That's the greatest hope. We have to hold out that perhaps they did get into an area and they isolated themselves.
COOPER: Reverend Charles Olson, how do you help families hold on to hope?
OLSON: It's very difficult. But again, I think just by being -- just by being there with them and comforting them and tell them that God will be with them, God -- no matter what is happening, God is with them, as I suggested to the families at Quecreek, God was with the miners there in the mine and God was with the family there as we met in the Sykesville fire hall. And I would have the same message to the folks there in Sago, that God is with the miners and God will be with those families, in whatever the case is, because God promises to be with us always no matter where we're at.
COOPER: Joe, these 13 miners, these 12 miners whose status is still unknown at this point, their experience -- they had a lot of years of experience in these mines. What kind of training do they have for an event like this, Joe?
SBAFFONI: It's part of their training. All miners are trained before they start. They have annual retraining. And they also have a lot of firefighting and evacuation training, which includes escape ways and what you would do in this type of a situation. They know that if they can't escape, the next thing to do is to try to barricade. And I'm sure that if they were able to do that, that's what they tried to do.
COOPER: Mark, when you're in a mine, when you can't see, when you're in these closed condition, I mean, how can you keep hope alive? How can you operate? Is it just experience?
RADOMSKY: Well, you do have the cap lamp, which is going to last for some time. After that, you just have to try to stay together and do the best you can in a very demanding and challenging situation.
COOPER: Reverend, did any of the Quecreek miners' families say that they never wanted their loved one to go back into a mine?
OLSON: Yes, there were some of the spouses and so on that said they didn't want their family members going back. But I also know that some of those families, that while they didn't want their spouse going back, their spouse did go back into the mines.
COOPER: Joe, what are you going to be watching for over the next several hours? What is the most important thing for viewers at home to be watching for in terms of positive developments? SBAFFONI: Well, I think that right now, the rescue teams are going to be advancing their fresh air base. They're going to be moving up their supplies and materials. And then they're going to start to continue the exploration. And I'm sure that probably with this next round, hopefully they'll find these miners.
COOPER: Mark, how difficult is it going to be? I mean, they are now basically at the end of this mine. The conditions, I understand, are five to six feet or so in terms of height of the mine, some 20 feet wide. How difficult is it going to be to find these miners in the next couple of hours?
RADOMSKY: Well, it's going to be a challenge. It's a pretty large mine and well developed. But they seem to be closing in and narrowing the search.
COOPER: We're going to take a short break, and our panel continues. Live from Sago, West Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY GOFF, FRIEND OF TRAPPED MINER: I want him to come out. He's a good friend. He don't deserve this. All of them are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: I'm still very optimistic and very hopeful and still praying for that miracle. But the odds are pretty much against us, as you know. It's an uphill fight. People still have a lot of faith. And I do, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was the governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, just a short time ago saying he has some hope. He's been optimistic all along saying that miracles do happen and that the people of West Virginia do believe in miracles.
One miner has been found dead. They have not identified that miners body yet. The mining families have been notified that a miner is found, but they don't know who exactly that miner is. We are waiting to hear about the status of the 12 other miners.
They've had to temporarily suspend the forward motion of the rescue operation in order to regroup, get their oxygen supplies replenished, then they will begin again. We anticipate knowing more over the next two or three hour hours.
I'm joined here in the field by Kimberly Osias, who has been following the progress of this.
It is sad news that they've had to take a short break. Because all these families, these are the final hours and the families are desperate for information.
OSIAS: You know, they are. And that is one of the issues that has caused some anger as you well know. They say they're not getting the information fast enough. They fear that there's sort of a veil and sort of a shroud of secrecy. It has made them very angry, they're not getting the truth quickly enough. But there's no way to make this happen faster.
COOPER: There were strong words spoken in the church tonight between the families and mining officials.
OSIAS: Yes, indeed there were. And so much so they said look the house of God is not the place for that. Take it outside. You know. And it is really run the range in there.
COOPER: Reverend Charles Olson, though, when you were counseling the Cue Creek miners families, did you experience that anger and how do you deal with it?
OLSON: Yes, we had some times when the people were anxious and wanted more information. But we comforted them. And when the did get angry, we asked them to go outside. But looking back, we realize they can only give us so much information because they wanted to be accurate when they gave it.
We worked through that just a short period of time. Then everything was comfortable again and everybody stayed with hope and faith and continued to wait for the results that we got.
COOPER: Joe Sbaffoni, the body that was found was some 700 feet from this man bus, the point where the tunnel kind of makes a turn to the left, the intake part of the tunnel. What do you read into that, the fact that this person was so far away from that bus?
SBAFFONI: You know, without knowing the condition of the body and so forth, it's pretty hard to make an assumption. You know, was he overcome from the respirable gases or was he killed in the concussion that came from the explosion? We won't know that until after they recover the body and do the appropriate examinations.
COOPER: Mark, carbon monoxide, what does that do the body? How does that impact the body.
RADOMSKY: Carbon monoxide is extremely toxic. And basically, the red blood cells absorb it at a rate of about 240 times the rate that they absorb oxygen.
COOPER: And how quickly -- once you come into contact with it, how quickly does it impact you?
RADOMSKY: Within minutes. Within minutes.
COOPER: And do you know what is happening? I mean, are you conscious? Or do you lose consciousness rapidly?
RADOMSKY: You just lose consciousness very, very rapidly. That's exactly right. But another thing about carbon monoxide, it's an explosive gas as well. And you know, that's just a situation that's relevant to the rescuers in their situation.
COOPER: Joe, how will they go about -- once it gets to the investigation phase, once the miners are all accounted for, how will they go about trying to determine the exact cause of this explosion?
SBAFFONI: Well, I'm sure, based on the investigation after Cue Creek, they will do a thorough and complete investigation of the entire mine and gather all the facts and both the state and the federal agencies will issue reports concerning the accident.
They will find the cause and come up with recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. We have to learn from these type of situations.
COOPER: Mark, how important is it to look at the safety record of this particular mine, this particular company? A lot of questions have been raised already today about some of the violations this company has been given over the last year.
RADOMSKY: Well, I don't know how valuable it is to look back and analyze their violations. That's always valuable when you're trying to plan safety programs and pinpoint weaknesses and so forth. But I don't know how relevant it is to this incident.
COOPER: Joe, what do you think?
SBAFFONI: Oh, I think that the investigation will determine what happened and, you know, my heart goes out to the miners and their families. But also my respect goes out to the agencies that are involved down there and the mine rescuers. They're giving it their all to try to come out with a positive solution. And you know, no matter how it comes out, they're giving 110 percent. And they have definitely have my respect.
COOPER: And reverend Olson, I'll give you the final word. Your message to families.
OLSON: Well, again they need to trust God and look to God and use their faith and continue to look to God for the comfort. If they have their loved ones, to be able to enjoy the future with them. If not, to find comfort and peace in God's presence in their lives. If they are not able to bring their loved ones out alive.
COOPER: It is a good message to end on. Thank you gentlemen, all for being part of this panel tonight. We'll have a special live edition of "LARRY KING" at midnight eastern time. Join me for "360" just after this break.
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