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What Went Wrong in Mining Tragedy?; Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Suffers Significant Stroke

Aired January 4, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
"Miracles do happen," that's what the governor said. Well, so do mistakes. Imagine telling that to the families of the 12 miners who won't be coming home.


ANNOUNCER: Tragedy at Sago Mine, a roller coaster of emotions as jubilation...


ANNOUNCER: ... turns to despair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had a miracle, and it was taken away from us.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the mining company apologizes for the misinformation, but questions remain about the communication breakdown and what went wrong.

Amid the heartbreak, he's being called the miracle.

KITTS: He was found by the sound of moans.

ANNOUNCER: The incredible story of Randal McCloy and the mystery of how this sole survivor, the youngest miner, managed to survive.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, live from Upshur County, West Virginia, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And good evening again. Thanks very much for joining us from perhaps the saddest place in the nation tonight.

For three days, we have been reporting from West Virginia, in Upshur County, near the mouth of the Sago Mine. That's where an explosion early Monday morning trapped 13 miners underground. Last night, if you were watching us, we had reason to hope, just before midnight, word from deep inside the mine: The 12 miners were alive. Families were told that. We reported it.

Many of you went to sleep believing that, but, then, just before 3:00 a.m., a woman named Lynette Roby came up to me right here. She brought her young son and her daughter. They were fleeing from the church. They were scared. They were angry. She approached me live on television with the news that -- that shocked me and the nation. She said she learned that only one miner was rescued. The others, all the others, all 12 of them, were, in fact, dead.

In time, there will be investigations and lawsuits, and we hope healing. For now, there is anger and there is heartbreak.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop right now. They need to know what's going on.

COOPER (voice-over): In the early hours of this morning, the families of the 12 dead West Virginia miners left the Sago Baptist Church, their earlier jubilation now replaced by anger and despair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't care about us, because they're not from West Virginia.


COOPER: Rattled mine officials searched for words to explain why families were told 12 of the 13 trapped miners had survived and why they waited for three hours to tell them, in fact, 12 men had died.

BEN HATFIELD, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: Even myself and the people that were with me in the building, the command center, for a period of time, believed that there were 12 survivors, because that was the initial communication that came to the command center, but it was wrong. And I -- I won't -- I won't try to get into who -- who misspoke. But it was wrong.

COOPER: West Virginia's governor, Joe Manchin, the man who repeatedly talked of miracles, was left scrambling, too. He, too, knew the truth early on, but didn't tell the families.

GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We will have a full investigation. And our intentions is -- and our goal is not to have one injury, lose one life in West Virginia.

COOPER: But there was one survivor, Randal McCloy, a 27-year-old father of two, a man with only three years in the mines. He was found moaning, dehydrated, with a collapsed lung, struggling to breathe, but alive.

And, today, his doctor said, though he's suffering some kidney problems, he seems to be getting better.

DR. LARRY ROBERTS, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS: We decreased the sedation, and he was able to interact a little bit with us, some appropriate movements, responded to his wife in an appropriate manner. And I think all of that's very, very positive. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, our nation mourns those who lost their lives in the mining accident in West Virginia.

COOPER: President Bush was quick to offer his condolences. But one look at the grief-stricken faces of the miners' families showed that there are no words to console them.

Late today, the mine's operator said the bodies of the doomed miners had been removed from the pit. He tried once more to explain why it took three hours for the painful truth to be told, and said he would do at least one thing differently, if only he had the chance.

HATFIELD: In hindsight, all I could do -- have done differently is personally have gone to the church and say, there's conflicting information. Please, let's just hold where we are, and we will give you more information when we have it.

COOPER: Little comfort for those left waiting for hours in a West Virginia church for the loved ones who would never return.


COOPER: That was a vigil, a candlelight vigil, that took place just a few hours ago right outside the church, just a few hundred yards from where I'm standing now, that church that has seen so much heartbreak, so much joy and so much heartbreak yet again.

You know, in stories like this one, you just hope for a happy ending. And, for a while, last night, it seemed like we might have that. But, then, all that talk of miracles turned to misery. And it unfolded right before our eyes.


COOPER: We have some breaking news. I'm with a Red Cross official.

Your name is Tamila (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tamilia Swaggart (ph).

COOPER (voice-over): It began at 9:00 p.m., when an official from the Red Cross broke the news on CNN that family members had been told one miner was dead.

(on camera): What did he say to the family members?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That they have found one body, confirmed dead. But they can't identify him yet.

COOPER (voice-over): What followed was a night of heartbreak and joy, followed by even more heartbreak, a night no one here will ever forget.

MANCHIN: With the air levels that we have to deal with, it's still an uphill battle and it's still -- the odds are against us. From that being said, again, we are in a different total mode than what we thought we would be in at this time. So, our hopes are still high and -- and we still -- as I say, we believe in miracles in West Virginia, and we're still hoping for that miracle.

COOPER: The governor struck an optimistic note at 10:41 p.m., when news the man trip the miners use was found intact. Optimism turned to elation at 11:49 p.m., when the bells of the Sago Baptist Church rang out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just come out of the mines. They say we got 12 alive. It's good news.

COOPER (on camera): Where did you -- who told you that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just came out of the mines and sent an official down, said we got 12 alive. They're going in now with -- going in now with the rescue crews.

COOPER (voice-over): Word had spread from workers involved in the rescue effort to family members inside the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You always have to have hope. And God can make miracles happen.

COOPER: Family and friends flocked back to the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- barefooted -- I ran to the barefooted to the church.


COOPER: Leaving the church, Governor Manchin gave a thumbs up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no official spokesman. The governor zipped down the hill, and had his finger in the air, and said, believe in miracles. And he took off, and, hopefully, he will be down near you soon.

COOPER: 12:28 a.m.: Randi Kaye, outside the church, received further confirmation from Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What can you confirm for us at this hour? We're being told 12 miners alive.


COOPER: Miners' families said they were told the miners would come to the church.

(on camera): That is just extraordinary, that they would actually -- that these miners would be in good enough shape that they would actually be able to come to the church to -- to greet their family members. KAYE: It was surprising to us as well, but most of the family members that we have spoken to have been all told that. And they're telling us that their relatives are expected to come here.

COOPER (voice-over): 1:12 a.m., an ambulance races by.

(on camera): We have information that there is a miner inside that ambulance. We are told that there is a miner inside that ambulance.

(voice-over): That seemed to offer further proof the miners were alive. But no one else emerged from the darkness until about 2:30 a.m.

(on camera): We are seeing activity up at the church. And the governor has arrived up at the church. So, we believe there may be a press conference very shortly.

(voice-over): There was no press conference. Only eight minutes later, three hours of sheer joy suddenly replaced with disbelief and despair.

LYNETTE ROBY, WITNESSED DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: There's only one made it out alive.

COOPER: Where...


ROBY: I think the name was Randal Ware (sic). The governor's in there, and this big in-charge CEO of the mine is apologizing.

And I think they said the other 11 couldn't be saved. I don't know if that's for sure, that they're perished or not, but I do know only one is...


COOPER: This is unbelievable.

ROBY: It's totally -- it's -- it's the worst thing that I have ever heard. I don't know how the -- this information could get this far.

COOPER (voice-over): It was not until 3:07 a.m. that official word came from the mine company. The long awaited press conference only confirmed the worst.

HATFIELD: This is certainly not the outcome that we had hoped for and prayed for. So, again, our hearts and prayers go out to the families.


COOPER: Well, it was at 12:30 a.m. that mine company officials got the first word from their own rescue workers that only one miner survived.

At 2:00 a.m., mining company executives knew for a fact that the 12 miners were dead. Why did it take so long to tell the families?

That is the question CNN's Joe Johns looks into tonight.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How could the life-or-death story of the miners get so horribly confused in those late-night hours?

HATFIELD: At 11:45 p.m., the mine rescue command center received a report that 12 miners were alive.

JOHNS: What they believed was miraculous news high above the mine at the command center came from the rescue team working 260 feet underground and apparently using a special code.

KITTS: When they found the miners, they relayed the message back to the fresh air base by radio, and then, the word was sent from the fresh air base back to the surface via -- via a hard-line telephone.

JOHNS: That news came across on a speaker, audible to many in the command center.

HATFIELD: These are friends, family, of the people that are trapped. There -- there was desperation for good information. They wanted to share it. I don't think anyone had a clue how much damage was about to be created.

JOHNS: Hatfield said some people who heard the news on the speaker used cell phones to call family members in the church. And, at 11:49, just four minutes later, the bells started to ring.


JOHNS: Governor Joe Manchin was in the church, and he heard a cheer go up.

MANCHIN: We didn't know what went on. And I asked my security people with me. And I said, what is happening? And they didn't know, because we hadn't heard anything.

JOHNS: The governor went to the mine to GET briefed on the developments. Around that time, the local congresswoman spoke to CNN's Randi Kaye.

KAYE: What can you confirm for us at this hour? We're being told 12 miners alive.

CAPITO: Twelve miners alive.

JOHNS: It couldn't sound more official, but it was all wrong.

As the families waited for the miners at the church, a short distance away, reporters spread the good news. Over at the command center, mine officials were also jubilant, but, deep beneath the earth, workers knew the grim truth. They were working furiously to save the only surviving miner, and they weren't able to successfully convey the message that all the other men were dead.

KITTS: You have to understand the means of communication between the mine rescue team and the surface command center. The mine rescue team is operating under a full-face mask with oxygen.

JOHNS: 12:30, the rescue team removed their masks and informed the command center that 11 of the 12 remaining miners appeared to be dead. Back at the church, the families were still rejoicing. They wouldn't hear the grim news for two more hours.

Why did it take so long? Hatfield says the mine wanted to make sure the families got accurate information, but he also says the state police were dispatched to the church to prepare them for the worst.

HATFIELD: State police officers were notified and asked to notify the clergy at the church where the families were gathered that the initial reports may have been too optimistic. Based upon our information, at least some of the clergy received that message. But it clearly did not get effectively -- effectively relayed to the people that needed it most, the miners' families.

JOHNS: The head of the West Virginia State Police tells CNN that's not what he was asked to do. Instead, he says he was told to speak with clergy members, not the families themselves. So, the families remained in limbo until shortly after 2:30 a.m., when Hatfield and the governor arrived to tell them the awful truth.


JOHNS: So, a lot of people jumped the gun on this. And, as much as everybody hates the way it happened, one of the realities is that containing an unconfirmed first report of rescue in such a close-knit community, with everyone on edge, probably would have been just about impossible -- Anderson.

COOPER: And -- and, of course, I mean, mine officials today were saying they wished they had done it differently. They wished that, after that 12:30 word that they had got, that -- that they did come down and -- and brief the families to at least not get too excited, that at least to let them know that there's conflicting information.

And -- and, you know, I think everyone wishes that -- that had occurred.

Joe, a long day for -- for you as well. Appreciate all your -- your efforts. Thank you very much, Joe.

Want to take a quick look at some of the other stories happening right now at this moment in the United States and around the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is fighting for his life in a Jerusalem hospital after suffering a significant stroke tonight. Sharon is under anesthesia on a respirator. His powers have been transferred to the deputy prime minister. We will have more on this developing story later on 360.

In Washington, it has been a week of cleaning out the dirty money. Today, President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign announced that it will give up the $6,000 it received from lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his wife, and a related organization to the American Heart Association. The lobbyist had pleaded guilty twice to fraud and conspiracy, and he claims to have bribed some top Washington officials. Stay tuned for that one.

Other lawmakers, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats as well, have also donated the money they received from the lobbyist to charities.

The Supreme Court, at the request of the Bush administration, has ordered the transfer of American Jose Padilla, an accused enemy combatant, from military to civilian custody. The court is also considering an appeal from Padilla challenging the president's authority to hold him in military custody since 2003. The government says it's a moot issue, since Padilla will now face trial in a criminal court.

And a so-called suspicious passenger removed from a plane in San Jose, California, does not appear to be related to terrorism. The FBI says passengers noticed that the man, who was clutching a backpack, had the words suicide bomber written on his journal. Those words now appear to be referring to music.

Well, so much went right. Rescuers made it, after all, thousands of feet into the earth, a heroic effort, all the way to the trapped miners. And, then, after that, so much went so very wrong. We are going to hear from the families of those who were lost about the hours of unimaginable shifting back and forth, from torment to joy, and then, horribly, back to torment again.

Also ahead, he's been called the miracle survivor, Randal McCloy. How did he make it? What did -- what did he see down there?

From West Virginia and around the world, you're watching 360.

First, as we go to break -- and before we go any further tonight, the names of the 12 miners, the 12 souls who have been lost.


COOPER: Well, we continue -- continue to get conflicting reports about what exactly happened inside the church when the family members were told the -- the 12 miners were dead.

Some witnesses describe a mob scene, with people screaming, charging the mining officials, even fighting. We wanted to clear things up.

Captain Mike Trupo is with the West Virginia State Police. I talked to him a short time ago. He was in the church. He was the officer who actually came, at -- at the behest of government officials, to come and tell the pastors that there may be some bad news coming. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: At about 2:00 a.m., you were told to go to the church and -- and talk to the pastors. What were you told to -- to tell them?

CAPTAIN MIKE TRUPO, WEST VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: Our instructions were to go up there and meet with the -- the pastor of the church, the other clergy that were there. Our instructions were that -- that bad news may be forthcoming, as far as the initial report of the 12 survivors being inaccurate.

COOPER: When you heard that, what did you think?

TRUPO: Well, you just really didn't know what to think. You were -- you were hoping that wasn't true. But, in situations like this, it is kind of an ebb and flow, as far as information. You know, what's accurate now may be inaccurate, you know, five minutes from now.

COOPER: So, that -- and that call was coming from the government's press secretary, who was telling your boss...

TRUPO: Yes. Yes.

COOPER: ... to send you guys to the church.

TRUPO: Correct.

COOPER: So, you go down to the church, obviously, with a heavy heart. And -- and what did you say?

TRUPO: Well, we just approached the pastor. And Colonel Lemmon (ph) spoke with him and just -- what I just said, that, you know, bad news may be coming, as far as the initial report not being totally accurate. And our instructions were to have the clergy get with their parishioners, brace them for this announcement that was forthcoming from the -- from the coal company executives, and -- and just do the best we could.

COOPER: I just want to read what Ben Hatfield, the president of the mining company, recently said. And I just want to see if it jibes with what...


COOPER: Your recollection.

He says: " At approximately 2:00 a.m., within minutes of learning that the initial reports may have been incorrect, state police officers were notified and asked to notify the clergy at the church where the families were gathered that the initial reports may have been too optimistic. Based upon our information, at least some of the clergy received that message. But it clearly did not get effectively relayed to the people that needed it most, the miners' families."

TRUPO: The first part of what you said is true. We were to meet with the clergy, have them get with their parishioners and -- and brace them. That was to be followed up with an announcement from the -- from the coal company executives and the governor, which subsequently did happen.

COOPER: So -- so, the part...

TRUPO: Our -- mission was not to deliver the message or have the clergy deliver the message, was just to -- just to prepare them that an announcement was -- was forthcoming.

COOPER: So, it really wasn't your responsibility or the responsibility of the pastors to tell the clergy, as may have been indicated in this statement by -- by Hatfield?


TRUPO: No. No.


When people ask you what happened here, I mean, weeks from now, years from now, how -- how will you describe what -- what happened here?

TRUPO: I don't know.

It -- tragic, obviously, comes to mind, and then what followed later, just bizarre. That -- that was just one of the most bizarre things I think I have ever seen.

COOPER: Well, it has -- it has been a long couple days for you as well. And I appreciate all you have done here.


COOPER: Thanks for talking with us.

TRUPO: Sure. Sure thing.


COOPER: We are covering all the angles on the Sago Mine disaster.

Just ahead, he was the youngest of the trapped miners and the only survivor, how Randy McCloy beat the odds, how he beat those odds and what the doctors' biggest concerns are tonight.

Also, a heartbreaking day for the families of the 12 miners, as you can imagine, those who didn't survive, a day of grieving and deep anger. Why, they want to know, weren't they told the truth sooner? And we will hear from someone who was there when the miners' bodies were removed from the mine earlier this morning.

That's next on 360.


COOPER: And welcome back.

For -- you know, for a long time last night, here in West Virginia, it looked as if there would be grief in one household, but joy in -- in a dozen others. As it turns out, the situation is exactly the opposite. Twelve families are grieving today. Just one has reason to be grateful.

CNN's Chris Huntington has more now on the lone survivor of the tragedy at Sago Mine.


CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a simple sound that led rescuers to Randy McCloy.

KITTS: He was found by the sound of moans.

HUNTINGTON: A miner, the father of a 4-year-old son and a 1- year-old daughter, Randy McCloy married his childhood sweetheart. His brother says Randy is the ultimate family man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just wanted to provide for his family, you know? That way, Anna could stay home with the kids.

HUNTINGTON: McCloy's wife says he was well aware of the dangers of working underground.

ANNA MCCLOY, WIFE OF RANDAL MCCLOY: He has mentioned it to me before about the mine safety. But there were a lot of things he didn't tell me, because he didn't want -- he didn't want me to worry.

HUNTINGTON: But, for 41 hours, she did, spending a lot of time at the little white church that has become home to this tragedy. Finally, her prayers were answered, as rescuers reached her husband.

KITTS: They had to restore his breathing. They had to provide oxygen to him. They were focused entirely on saving Mr. McCloy.

HUNTINGTON: Emergency workers rushed McCloy to a local hospital, then on to a larger regional trauma center.

Doctors say McCloy suffered a collapsed lung, was severely dehydrated, causing kidney problems. He is under sedation, has a breathing tube in his mouth, and, therefore, can't speak. But he is communicating through facial expressions and touch.

ROBERTS: We decreased the sedation, and he was able to interact a little bit with us, some appropriate movements, responded to his wife in an appropriate manner.

HUNTINGTON: Doctors say they are optimistic about his recovery. They say his youth and good physical condition may have saved his life.

ROBERTS: I think good health and -- and being young obviously contribute to -- to being able to tolerate such insults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody survived, it would be my brother, you know? He just -- he's strong.


HUNTINGTON: Now, Anderson, that strength is being put to the test tonight.

Randy McCloy is still in critical condition. One of the crucial things that doctors are going to be looking for in the next day-and-a- half or so is the degree to which he may still be suffering effects from shortage of oxygen that he suffered, obviously, in that time in the mine.

That's something they're not quite sure of yet. Yesterday -- they hope to ramp down the sedative that he has been on since he's been here at this trauma center and allow him to actually wake up, and then they will know more about his overall condition -- Anderson.

COOPER: Chris, has there been any word about how -- how -- about the investigation, as they're trying to find out when the other miners might have passed away or how long they may have lasted? Have you heard anything on that?

HUNTINGTON: Not hearing that here, Anderson.

Again, Randy McCloy will be such a crucial part in piecing together what actually happened down there, because the hope is, and, indeed -- indeed, as the doctors say, they believe he is on the road to recovery. And if he can recover quickly and tell folks what happened, that will probably be the strongest clue and evidence as to what those other miners suffered down there -- Anderson.

COOPER: I just keep imagining and thinking about what he must have gone through, I mean, found with 11 of his buddies down there in the mine.

And they only got to him because they heard his moaning in the dark. I mean, more than 41 hours down there, it's just an extraordinary that he -- he did survive.

Chris, appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.


COOPER: The McCloy family has much to celebrate, but 12 other families are grieving tonight. And they, of course, are primarily in -- in our thoughts and our prayers. They are demanding answers to -- to some tough questions. And they deserve answers, chief among them, why weren't they told the truth about their loved ones sooner? Why did mining officials allow them to have false hope for hours?

Also tonight, Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, fighting for his life after a major stroke. We will have the latest on his condition coming up on 360.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I call this injustice and I will tell you all right here, right now, I plan on suing.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Strong words, such strong emotion. There was so much emotion here last night. The White House today promised a full investigation of the Sago mine disaster. Here in Upshur County, West Virginia, anguish is mixed with anger. What was already a tragedy was made worse, much worse last night by what mining officials are calling a miscommunication and what they acknowledge as a mistake to not come forward faster. Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Peggy Cohen is a daughter in pain. Her father, Fred Ware Jr. died in the Sago mine. He had been mining 40 years.

PEGGY COHEN, FATHER DIED IN MINE ACCIDENT: He said that's where he would die.

KAYE: Peggy given false hope Tuesday night along with the rest of the trapped miners' families that 12 men were found alive. We were there when the church bells rang. And the families cried tears of joy. Lisa Pharis thought her brother-in-law Marshall Winans (ph) was coming home.

LISA PHARIS, BROTHER-IN-LAW DIED IN MINE ACCIDENT: They said they're all fine. That's all we ...

KAYE: They're all fine?

PHARIS: They're all fine.

KAYE: Is this is a miracle to you? The governor has been saying ...

PHARIS: The best miracle ever.

KAYE: Then, hours later, a stunning reversal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not even right.

KAYE: Word of a miscommunication between rescue crews 13,000 feet below ground and officials above ground. News only one miner had survived sent families reeling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them go. Let them go.

KAYE: Sam Lance lost his brother-in-law Martin Bennett and was in Sago Baptist Church when official word came.

What was the scene in there? Were you just stunned after learning ...

SAM LANCE, BROTHER-IN-LAW DIED IN MINE ACCIDENT: Everybody is stunned right now. Everybody is stunned and sick to their stomach. We feel like we've been lied to.

KAYE: The grim reality sent Peggy Cohen into shock. She needed treatment overnight at the hospital.

COHEN: I just said I just want to see him. See him. And then going from oh my God, I have to go identify my dad's body.

KAYE: Only after seeing his body, Peggy says, will she believe it.

P. COHEN: I'm waiting on the church steps thinking my dad is being brought to me. And then I see everybody going back into the church and then telling me my dad's dead. Just -- it would have -- you know, I just wanted the truth and I wanted the truth up front.

KAYE: Buried beneath her grief is anger, frustration and one question. How could this have happened? Peggy and her husband say they remember the false report 12 had survived, coming from a mining company official.

AARON COHEN, FATHER-IN-LAW DIED IN MINE ACCIDENT: He picked up the microphone and got everybody quieted down and told us that.

KAYE: Peggy would like the mining company to tell her something else -- why did officials wait so long to correct such a painful mistake?

P. COHEN: I think they owe us all a better explanation.


COOPER: It is so hard to imagine why they didn't come forward more quickly. What has today been like for that family? I mean, they had to identify the body.

KAYE (on camera): And she did. Peggy Cohen did end up identifying her father. Which is when reality really did set in for her. She'll make funeral arrangements tomorrow. They attended this vigil at the church, those are the pictures from the vigil. And, they have to have an autopsy on all of the bodies. So she can't make any funeral arrangements just yet. But we asked her what she will miss most about her dad. And her dad brought pieces of coal out from the mine for her kids and used to show them how they could see the fossils in the coal and to paint them with clear nail polish and that will bring the fossils out ...

COOPER: That's neat.

KAYE: And she will miss that quite a bit, her kids will miss that quite a bit and she will also miss the daily phone call when he would home from the mine.

COOPER: And they don't have cable or satellite truck actually watching ...

KAYE: They are. It was really important to them to see their story tonight.

COOPER: Our hearts go out to them. So many stories like that and so many people in the mourning tonight and Randi, we appreciate you bringing us that story.

You know, we have been here for so long. We witnessed a wide range of emotions over the last three days or so. First, the joy and celebration, the families so grateful, then later on, a much different scene the anger and the anguish, the families really heartbroken, of course, it has been -- it's a cliche to say a roller coaster of emotions but especially last night and well into the early hours of this morning. So difficult.

We're joined now live by someone who has been at the scene of the tragedy pretty much along as a volunteer helping in whatever way she could feed the rescuers, do whatever needed to be done, doing a great many other things.

Jody Light was there at the bitter end when the 12 bodies were brought out of the mine earlier today. Jody, appreciate you being with us. How are you holding up? For people like yourself, no one pays attention to this, you are helping everyone out.

JODY LIGHT, RESCUE VOLUNTEER: You don't think about, running on adrenaline. I'm tired. I had to get to sleep last night. I left an hour before the big news. Saw it here on CNN with you when they came down and said they were alive. I'm tired. I'm drained and getting the bad news this morning was tough.

COOPER: I think about the families not just today, which is a horrible day, but I have loved ones in my life and I often found what was hardest wasn't the day or two after. Because you are still kind of on adrenaline. It's the week after when the cameras are gone and sort of the reality of life, day-to-day without that loved one sets in. That is really tough. Are these families going to have support here?

LIGHT: It is, you know, Buckhannon, West Virginia, and Upshur County is tight knight, close people. We are here to support them. I had some friends who lost loved ones in the mines and we're running on adrenaline but when you pack up and leave, you are right. This goes on. Their lives go on. So they need the thoughts and prayers and there's a big support system here. There's a huge outpouring of love from the community. COOPER: You were there today at the mine. At the entrance to the mine when these 12 brave miners were brought out. Tell us what you can about that.

LIGHT: They notified us. We had gone over with the rotary group to take breakfast. And we thought they were already gone. And they said, no, they were bringing them out. It was very somber. Everyone went outside. It was very silent. There was -- we watched as they came out. They were careful, very dignified. Extremely respectful procession.

COOPER: Miners took off the hats I understand.

LIGHT: They took off the hats. We had hands over the hearts. There were some tears, very quiet. They brought them up the hill and in ambulances one by one. Not a word was spoken. The governor came by, he was there and the officials. He shook every rescue workers hands and thanked them. They felt like they failed and they gave it everything. We were there pretty much the whole time and so professional, so dedicated. And this was a real blow to them, too. They lost friends, relatives and co-workers.

COOPER: Yeah. Were you at the vigil earlier tonight?

LIGHT: No. I wasn't. I went home for a little while.

COOPER: It looked like it beautiful. I saw pictures of it. Looked like it was a very special thing.

LIGHT: Our community is about family and it's so small. I mean, we are a rural town. We have a lot of things going on. But it touches everybody. Everyone knows someone or was related to someone. And it affects all of us so we're wounded but we are going to rebuild. We are going to move on and be strong and support everybody.

COOPER: Jody, for you who are watching, was kind enough to invite me come May 21 to the strawberry festival that takes place here.

LIGHT: We want you to be our grand feature parade marshal.

COOPER: Well, I'm not sure I'm up for that honor.

LIGHT: No crowns.

COOPER: No crowns. All right. Well, maybe I'll wear a big strawberry on my head. But I'd be happy to and I hope to make that happen.

LIGHT: Everyone heard this now around the world.

COOPER: If I'm in the United States of America and not on a story, I will be here for the strawberry festival. It will be nice to see this town this the happier times and in better times.

LIGHT: And we really hope a lot of folks listen to and keep everyone in the thoughts and prayers and we hope the media and the folks that have been here will come back and see our town, it's wonderful, it's strong, vibrant people. Loving people. And we hope you come back under better circumstances.

COOPER: I appreciate you and I appreciate all you've done ...

LIGHT: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you so much. Take my glove off here.

LIGHT: That's okay. Thank you. We appreciate it.

COOPER: We have a lot more here on 360. Authorities here say most of the miners who died underground had done what they were trained to do after the explosion, barricade themselves, try to seek safety. So what exactly is that? We want to take you inside a training exercise for a firsthand look at what miners do in a crisis.

And reliving the drastic chains of events through the words of a man who lost a friend in that mine. A heart wrenching story from a unique perspective when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, we come to you tonight from a community in grief. Talminsville (ph), West Virginia, it is a place built on mining. It is not just a way of life. It is a very dangerous and deadly one at that. Again, here's CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This snapshot of an isolated mining community in crisis today seems almost stuck in time. As if we could have seen the same crisis unfold the same way 20 or 30 years ago. First there's the shock. Then the waiting. The families close ranks, most with brave faces and tight lips. They lived with danger every day, often from generation to generation.

But why they do keep doing it? Terry Hornbeck was a miner for 28 years until just a few months ago. When his best friend convinced him to get out.

TERRY HORNBECK, MINER: He wanted me out of the mines.

JOHNS: Because of the danger? Is that part of it.

HORNBECK: I think in his mind, that's what it was, yeah. He thought that -- he told me one time that he thought even that he was afraid something would happen before I got out.

JOHNS: Hornbeck retired. He and his wife took over a hot dog shop and understands why people keep going back to the mines.

HORNBECK: Well, you get in a rut. When you get in a coal mining, you might think, well, I'll try it for a while and then the next thing you know, it's 5 years, ten years and the first thing you know, I'm too old to get out. And that's what happens to a lot of guys. JOHNS (on camera): Historically, the relationship between miners and mining companies has often been tense. Especially here in West Virginia where strikes and mining accidents have been a common occurrence. But things are changing here. Buckhannon is no longer a company town. There are other jobs here and yet the lure of the mines and the money they can bring are often a powerful force. Dan Patterson (ph) teaches science here and has seen many a student like their fathers go into the coal mines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids can, you know, leave school and get very high paying jobs, you know. Forty, 50, $60,000 a year right out of the high school without too much education. Just a lot of training and it's just, you know, it's a good livelihood for these people and they want to provide for the families so they take chances.

JOHNS (voice-over): The reach of the accident is so long the state gave the students the day off while waiting for word of the fate of the miners. As attractive as mining might seem in communities like this, in the last census, the median income in most coal producing counties was $7,000 below the national median, which shows the kind of struggle people face in these parts, never mind mining is also among the most dangerous professions.

Mike Poole (ph) knows about the dangers, his drilling company helped pump air in and water out of the Que Creek mine in Pennsylvania where they were trapped and rescued three years ago. Late last night, Poole drove to the Sago mine to volunteer.

UNIDETNIFIED MALE: I recognized that in any energy extraction industry, it requires lots of heavy parts, moving pieces, putting men and machinery together, and whether you're extracting coal, whether you're drilling for oil and gas, or whether you're building large buildings, there is a responsibility that comes with that and we take it very seriously.

JOHNS: It's a harsh reality and sometimes when it all seems to go wrong, mining communities like Buckhannon are left to rely on their hopes and prayers. Joe Johns, CNN, Upshur County, West Virginia.


COOPER: And a lot of hopes and prayers in this town over the last couple of days. Erica Hill from Headline News joins us with the stories followed tonight. Hey, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN HN ANCHOR: Hey, Anderson. President Bush predicts a year of progress in Iraq. And he says U.S. troop levels will likely be cut. Mr. Bush's comments coming today at the Pentagon after he met with his national security team. The president says if Iraqis make more political progress and Iraqi troops stand up, then the U.S. will stand down.

But 60 miles north of Baghdad today a funeral leads more two funerals when at least 36 people when a suicide bomber struck as people gathered to mourn the murder of a Shiite politicians nephew. The blast was one of several across Iraq today. In New Orleans, three-hour bus tours of the damage left by Hurricane Katrina begin in and sold out on the first day. The cost, $35 for adults, $28 for kids. Some people are calling the tour exploitive. The tour company says $3 of every ticket donated to Katrina-related charities and that the tours, in its mind, will help boost the city's tourism industry.

And finally, just like on land, for us, under the sea, researchers say some whale species communicate in different dialects depending on where they're from. The discovery was made with help from new underwater microphones. Anderson?

COOPER: Well, that's pretty cool, Erica. Thanks very much.

Last night, he was found moaning and on conscious on the floor of Sago mine. Tonight, Randy McCloy is critical but in stable condition. We'll get Dr. Sanjay Gupta's medical perspective on why the young miner has been able to hang on to life.

And Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, he, too, fighting to stay alive. He sufferd a major stroke. We'll get the latest from Jerusalem from 360 when we continue.


COOPER: We take you to Jerusalem now where Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is said to be gravely ill after suffering a major stroke. He is getting surgery as we speak. CNN's John Vause has the latest from Jerusalem.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the second time in just over two weeks, Ariel Sharon was rushed to Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital but this time, it was much more serious. He'd suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was taken to surgery.

DR. SHLOMO MOR-YOSEF, HADASSAH HOSPITAL: Prime Minister Sharon was brought to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem 30 minutes ago. The diagnosis is significant stroke.

VAUSE: Earlier in the night, Sharon was on his ranch in southern Israel when he began feeling weak and ill. He complained of chest pains, his personal physician made the decision to drive by ambulance to the hospital, a journey of more than an hour. It was only after an MRI scan that doctors discovered how grave his condition was.

YISRAEL MAIMON, CABINET SECRETARY: Since his treatment requires anesthesia, full anesthesia, the responsibilities will be transferred to his deputy, Mr. Ehud Olmert, following the advice of the attorney general.

VAUSE: After his last health scare described as a minor stroke, Sharon was released within a few days. He joked back then about quickly returning to work. ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I was touched by the great concern Israelis expressed over my health and I thank them from the bottom of my heart but now I must rush off and get back to work.

VAUSE: Doctors say he lost some weight, cut back the workload but now as the prime minister fights for his life, many here are thinking the unthinkable -- what would Israel do without Ariel Sharon?


VAUSE (on camera): Even if the prime minister makes a full recovery, or comes out of the operation, rather, as well as can be expected, the recuperation will be long and difficult and there is now growing speculation that the era of Ariel Sharon dominating every aspect of Israeli public life may well now be coming and Anderson, within the last few moments, we have seen in the last few moments the prime minister's assistant leave the hospitals, their heads bowed, their expressions grim. And also, within the last couple of moments, the prime minister's personal physician arrived here. We do not know what that means. We don't know the full implications at this moment, Anderson.

COOPER: John, we will continue to follow the story. Thank you very much.

We want to thank the international viewers for watching and welcome those just joining us now.

Ahead on 360, a lot more to cover. The questions on everyone's mind, how could this have happened? Why were families of the dead miners told their loved ones were still alive? We're going examine what went wrong and the officials in charge of the mine now the target of fierce criticism but is it justified? We'll take a close look at how they handled the tragedy and now exactly do miners prepare for such a crisis? We'll take you inside a training exercise in a mine. All that when 360 continues.

ANNOUNCER: Shock and disbelief in a West Virginia mining town. Twelve miners dead but a tragic miscommunication leads to false hope.

BEN HATFIELD, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP PRESIDENT: There was desperation for good information and they wanted to share it.

ANNOUNCER: Families want answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me why they've done this to our families.

ANNOUNCER: What went wrong at Sago mine? The International Coal Group under fire. The company's CEO faces the families, trying to explain the communication breakdown and tonight, new concerns about safety violations and whether the mine should have even been operating.

Plus we're going deep inside a mine to explore what it's like hundreds of feet underground. See for yourself why mining is one of the nation's deadliest professions.

Tonight, live from Upshur County, West Virginia, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: We're going to have more of this gut wrenching story throughout the evening beginning with things happening at this moment. Let's take a look. The corporate owners of the Sago mine said they sincerely regret early, erroneous reports that only one of the 13 men missing in the mine had perished. International Coal Group CEO said the company had a contradictory report within 45 minutes but it took ICG officials nearly two hours to confirm the death toll and inform families not 12 but only one of the trapped men had survived.

At West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, doctors are reporting that the collapsed lung of Randy McCloy, the only survivor of the mining disaster, has almost completely expanded again.


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