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AMERICAN MORNING

3 Killed, 3 Injured in Utah Mine Rescue Effort

Aired August 17, 2007 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Breaking news. Another cave-in at the mine in Utah. Three rescuers killed trying to reach the trapped miners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a devastating blow to what was already a tragic situation.

CHETRY: What went wrong? What now for the rescue...

GOV. JON HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: I, for one, as governor of the state, feel pretty strongly that we shouldn't let another person in the underground mine.

CHETRY: ... and for anguished families?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody is close and everybody knows somebody that's in there.

CHETRY: The minute-by-minute developments live from the scene on this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: And thanks so much for joining us. It is Friday, August 17th.

I'm Kiran Chetry.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano, in for John Roberts. It is 7:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 5:00 a.m. in Huntington, Utah, where the rescue operation at the Crandall Canyon Mine turned deadly last night.

CHETRY: Yes, they're calling it a catastrophe what happened overnight. Three rescue workers killed and six more injured. They were trying to tunnel through to get to those trapped miners, the six men who have been stuck there for 11 days now.

The men were trying to clear the coal and debris from the only path out when the walls collapsed. The Mine Safety and Health Administration calling it a seismic bump. For now, the search for the six trapped miners has stopped.

We talked with Utah's governor, Jon Huntsman, earlier on AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: I, for one, as governor of the state, feel pretty strongly that we shouldn't let another person in the underground mine until we can guarantee their safety. We've seen too much over the last week and a half and we need to begin to learn from some of these lessons.

So when I do meet with MSHA just in a couple of hours in the morning here, I'll want to get certain guarantees that there will be worker safety. And I know that the rescue effort is something that many had participated in and they're very anxious to continue, but we need to make sure that safety is of paramount importance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Well, the mine's owner says that rescuers are still a thousand feet from reaching the section where the trapped men were believed to be working -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Kiran, extreme sadness visible on the faces of families and friends in Utah. There is hope, though, the six rescued miners, they did survive.

We're covering the latest from all of the angles on this breaking news story.

CNN's Brian Todd is at the mine. Kara Finnstrom is at the hospital. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at -- is in Atlanta for his medical insight.

We'll first start with Brian Todd at the entrance to that mine.

Good morning, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Rob.

We're entering a very critical juncture here where some very tough decisions are going to have to be made in the hours and days ahead about when to resume the actual digging operation that is going to be the operation that physically gets to these trapped men, if they're going to get to them. We are told that the drilling from the top of the mountain is going to continue.

Now, whether it's going on at this hour or not is unclear. But we are told by the governor that the drilling will continue from the top of the mountain.

Now, that operation essentially was just to try to find out where the miners might be and if they could locate them through that drilling process to possibly get air and food to them. But so far, those operations have really yielded very, very little, almost nothing in the way of information about where these men are.

Now, critical decisions have to be made, as I mentioned, in the hours ahead about whether and when to resume that digging operation. But also, some very tough questions about what led up to this. Now, they have been experiencing so-called mountain bumps, these eruptions of coal and debris underneath -- in the mining area when the mountain shifts. These bumps have hindered the operations throughout this process and have been considered very, very dangerous. Our own Gary Tuchman was in the mine when one of these things happened and he said it was just incredibly frightening to go through.

Now, because of those bumps, a lot of questions were raised about the safety of the rescue operation. The mine owner, Robert Murray, has always contended throughout this process that the rescue operation was safe.

Well, now, he's going to have to answer some very tough questions about that. I asked him yesterday, in my one-on-one interview with him, regarding a report -- and he acknowledged this -- that 12 miners in this rescue operation, a couple of days ago had asked to be reassigned to other areas of this rescue operation because of concerns for their own safety.

Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: Not one of these 12 men said to anybody that they wanted to be relocated because it was unsafe. Some of them have family members in there that are buried. And for other reasons they asked to be relocated. But the word "safe" or "safety" has never been brought up.

But, of course, the whole endeavor is an operation that we must keep safe. It is a dangerous operation. It has nothing to do with these miners asking to be relocated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: So, Mr. Murray making a very fine point of difference there, saying that no one has said it was unsafe, but that these men in particular had concerns about their own safety and essentially might have been maybe spooked by what they saw or experienced inside that mine. That's a very critical nuance at this point, knowing what we know now, three people kid, at least six injured last night when they got another one of these mountain bumps -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Brian Todd live for us at the mine entrance in Huntington, Utah -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

Well, ambulance and helicopters rushed to the site. Some came as far as 140 miles away in Salt Lake City. The six surviving rescuers were all taken to local hospitals, being treated there now. At least three are still in serious condition.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom is at Castleview Hospital. That's the one closest to the mine.

Kara, what can you tell us about the conditions this morning?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are still waiting, hoping to hear an update from the hospital. It was about 11 hours ago now that those ambulances started rushing this way.

Some 45 minutes away is the mine. Right behind me is the closest hospital. We are in the city of Price.

Our crews along the way did see these paramedics doing chest compressions trying to save these rescuers' lives. Once they did arrive here, three of those miners, we were told at our last confirmed report, were being treated for serious injuries.

One of the rescuers died shortly after arriving, one was transported via aircraft, via a helicopter, to a nearby hospital that has better trauma facilities. That's in Provo, Utah. And one -- the good news out of this -- was treated and actually released.

But also this morning, families coming here, trying to get any information, as it just started to -- the information just started to get out into this community. Many people were sleeping and are starting to get phone calls and very worried about their loved ones.

They had loved ones in the mine initially and felt very fortunate that they escaped the initial mine cave-in. And then they were worried now whether they had escaped the cave-in for these rescuers.

We did speak a little bit earlier with the governor from Utah. You heard from him just a few moments ago on the show. He was talking about the concerns of not, again, starting up these rescue operations until they can guarantee, federal mine safety experts can guarantee that no one else will be hurt. But when he spoke with us, he talked about the rescuers that were hurt, saying that they were nothing less than heroes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUNTSMAN: It is from tragedy and adversity that we expect to become stronger and better. And I don't think anyone wants the lives of these heroes tonight to be lost in vain. It is from their lives and their experiences -- indeed, the experiences of the past week and a half -- that we're going to become better and smarter and safer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FINNSTROM: And just about a block away from here, there was an impromptu vigil overnight. Just about a dozen people gathering, light candles, praying.

As daybreak comes up here, we know this is going to be a very difficult day for this community, still wrestling with the fact they have six trapped miners inside there and that it's unsafe, at this point, at least, for rescuers to go back in. That's going to be one of the big push and pulls today as rescuers and safety officials decide what to do next. CHETRY: Kara, I'm not sure how much you know about this situation, but the one who you said was able to be treated and released, is he talking or giving any indication of where they were in the mine or what exactly happened that caused the fatalities and the injuries?

FINNSTROM: We have not been able to talk to him yet. They have actually kept all of the media at a pretty good distance. You can see the hospital behind us there, but at a pretty could distance. We could see the helicopters coming and going, we could see the ambulances coming in, but we weren't actually able to get close enough to see that miner treated and released.

CHETRY: It will be interesting to see, because they were, it seems, able to get those nine out rather quickly, much quicker than the rescue operation to save the miners initially trapped.

Kara, thanks. We'll check in with you throughout the morning.

Also, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us from Atlanta now with more on these injuries and exactly what may be involved in treating them.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, we've been trying to break this down, and just hearing Kara's report, I think we got a good sense of just where all of these patients went. I want to give you an idea as well.

First of all, there are a few different hospitals involved in the care of the patients, that care is obviously ongoing. What we know obviously that three have died, six were injured.

Of those six that were injured, one is in critical condition. But we're hearing now is also alert and breathing on own, which is very important in terms of the overall prognosis for that head injury. As you were just talking about, one has been treated and released.

But also, of the other four patients, one had head injuries significant enough that required an airlift to a trauma hospital, a University of Utah hospital. I'm sure doctors are taking care of that patient. It sounds like he is in critical condition.

Three with traumatic injuries that are being treated at Castleview Hospital there. That's a smaller hospital. It's not a -- that doesn't take care of some of the major traumas there as we've been hearing. More things like broken bones, maybe some simple crush injuries, simple head injuries.

So, we'll get updates on those patients as the day goes on -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And how about the six initial miners still trapped? We're into day 11 now. How long could they survive this?

GUPTA: Well, it's tough to say because it's a dynamic situation. It's dependent on what the conditions are for them now, it's dependent on, were there any initial injuries at the time of the collapse, of the cave-in, whatever happened there.

Here's a way of looking at it. These are obviously rough numbers, but without air, someone can typically survive for minutes. Without water, for days. And without food, for weeks.

We also reviewed pretty closely that emergency response plan, the same thing that Alina Cho has been talking about, looking at it specifically from the standpoint of resources. Now, what they say specifically is that within 2000 feet of a working space, they do keep certain resources, they keep enough resources for 18 miners, so three times as many miners as are actually there.

They have 10 gallons of water typically in one of these caches, they have 96 hours worth of MRE. Those are meals ready to eat, again, for 18 miners, so three times the amount. And they also have these compressed oxygen cylinders and also soda lines.

The soda line's purpose, Kiran, is to basically scrub away carbon dioxide that might build up. The oxygen cylinders are obviously to provide oxygen and what might otherwise be a low oxygen situation.

We don't know about situations like hypothermia. We do know that the air was actually tested at about 15 percent oxygen concentration. Normal air is 21 percent. Fifteen percent is survivable, but it's hard to say exactly what impact that might have on miners that are down there.

CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

MARCIANO: Kiran, according to the CDC, an average of two coal miners are seriously injured each year, and one miner is killed every other year because of seismic bumps like the one that triggered the second cave-in last night.

Our own Gary Tuchman was the first network correspondent to be in the mine last week, and he was accompanied by the owner, Bob Murray. During that time, he actually experienced a mine bump, and early on AMERICAN MORNING, he explained what it was like to be underground at the time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When we were in the mine for a two-hour tour, there were five journalists who were allowed into the mine. We went three miles in, we went 2,000 feet down. It was a 30-minute ride just to get to the point where the men were working to try to get their comrades out.

And in the middle of our visit, we had this shake and this kind of concussion boom. And the mine started shaking. And I looked at the coal miners faces and they looked scared, and for a few seconds I thought the mine was collapsing.

And we were with Bob Murray, the co-owner of the mine. He was standing next to us. And he says, "It's another bump." And he says, "It's an aftershock," and he says, "If there's another one we're going to have to evacuate."

And this was one -- at that point -- this is eight days ago we were in there. And that point it was one of eight aftershocks that they had since the original collapse of the mine.

Now, Bob Murray still says if it's an earthquake, a natural earthquake that caused this disaster last Monday, then these are aftershocks from the earthquake. Well, scientists disagree. They say it's a collapse of the mine that caused seismic readings.

But either way, it was very scary when we were in there. And when we came out, we realized these miners are taking amazing risks by being inside this mine. And that's why at least 12 of them had decided over the last few days they no longer could do it psychologically, from a safety standpoint.

They were very concerned and they asked to be relieved of their duties to rescue their fellow miners. But that's something to keep in mind, that all of the rescuers who have been inside this mine for the last 10 days, are miners who work for the mine. They've gone from being miners to being rescuers. And now they've gone through just two terrible tragedies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Mine owner Bob Murray has said in the last few days that the mountain was still alive and that seismic movement Wednesday night had stopped rescue digging then and that another shake delayed work just yesterday morning.

CHETRY: Well, it's time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for some of the other stories news this morning. And we are watching Hurricane Dean gaining steam now in the Atlantic.

Bonnie Schneider following all of the extreme weather for us.

(WEATHER REPORT)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

MARCIANO: Kiran, the search for survivors after yesterday's deadly earthquake in Peru tops our "Quick Hits".

The U.S. Geological Survey has upgraded the quake to a rare 8.0. More than 500 people were killed and more than 1,600 others were injured.

And NASA says it does not need to repair the hole in the shuttle Endeavour before it returns to Earth. NASA made the decision last night after tests show the gash in the shuttle's tiles will hold up when it returns to Earth.

Well, we'll be right back with our top story, talk with the mayor of the town where the mine rescuers are being treated, and all of the accidents. And we're also going to talk with a father that was killed (sic) 50 years ago. We'll ask him if the underground rescue efforts will continue when he joins us live.

That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Nineteen minutes past the hour now.

And it's become an all-night vigil for family and friends after the rescue effort at a Utah mine took a tragic turn last night.

Here now live in Price, Utah, Mayor Joe Piccolo, who's been at the hospital all night.

Mayor, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

MAYOR JOE PICCOLO, PRICE, UTAH: Good morning, Kiran. Thank you for being here as well.

CHETRY: Well, we've been closely following the conditions of the six miners who were injured. Have you gotten an update this morning, or can you tell us anything about how they're doing?

PICCOLO: We were with most of them all night long. And the condition of those who survived I believe is improving, as I understand it. I don't know much more than that, Kiran.

CHETRY: Their families also part of this all-night vigil, obviously waiting word and trying to be with them. How are they holding up?

PICCOLO: They're holding up as well as can be expected in the initial aftermath of this terrible tragedy. The real -- the real concern are the families and what will happen to those families in the next few hours or few days, or few weeks. The families are -- the real concern in my heart, how to help them deal with the short portion of this tragedy and then the long portion of it. So...

CHETRY: Right. And when you say long portion -- go ahead.

PICCOLO: Well, the fatalities are something that the community will have to help deal with for a considerable length of time. The immediate needs of those who are injured will have to be assessed to see what -- how the recovery, what time it will take for them to recover back to a full capacity. So that's what I mean by that. And the needs of the families will be something we need to assess as a community and see how we can help them get back to the normal activities of -- that they be part of.

CHETRY: You know, speaking of the community, what are people in the community saying about the continuing rescue efforts in light of the deaths of these three rescuers? Should it continue today? PICCOLO: Most of what I hear concerns itself more with -- again, with the condition of the families and the survivors and how they can be helped, rather than whether or not the rescue attempts should be pushed forward or not. I haven't heard much talk about ceasing the rescue effort; however, when I was visiting with the governor early this morning, his thoughts were that the horizontal efforts should be curtailed until such conditions could be guaranteed safe, and that the loss of life or injuries should be limited to no more, referring back to the vertical process of drilling holes into the areas of the mine to create communications in that manner, rather than trying to go in a horizontal manner where the known conditions are not safe.

So, I think, in my opinion, and only my opinion, I believe that the rescue effort will go forward, and it will be intensified from the vertical drilling areas rather than from the horizontal assessment. So...

CHETRY: Do you share the governor's opinion that that horizontal effort should stop for now?

PICCOLO: From the best of my knowledge -- and understand, Kiran, that my position is one of support. I have very limited knowledge about the safety and the condition of the mine, so, yes, I do support the governor's thoughts.

He's been well-versed on the condition of the mine by MSHA. And I believe he has good merit in what's being said there. It's a collaborative effort of many individuals, as I understand it, to come to those decisions, and my position would be to support that. And I do support it.

CHETRY: You know, sadly, you've been here before. Your family experienced a tragedy when it comes to mining as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

PICCOLO: Our community is no stranger to that. And my family as well.

As a young boy, I lost my father to a mining accident very close to the proximity of Crandall Canyon. So I have a little bit of a personal experience, as well as an elected responsibility to be part of this tragedy. So, yes, we understand the loss of a loved one very close to the same type of a tragedy, Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, you were just 6 years old, I understand it, when you had to experience the loss of your father because of a mining accident. What kind of toll does it take on the community in general when mining is a way of life, and what sustains the community economically, yet it comes at such a high price sometimes?

PICCOLO: The socioeconomic deprivation that takes place on a tragedy like this is, first of all, devastating, and then because of the long-term history that we have in mining, the community is very closely knit, and the strength and unity that comes from individuals gathering together through prayer and lighting candles and participating with the -- taking part of the grieving process and pain away from those who are in need, it becomes a very strong effort, Kiran. And that is what we're experiencing right now, in my belief.

There is hope that the six miners who are trapped will be rescued. There's a determination to make sure that the community picks up the pieces and goes forward with those who have lost loved ones. And to help provide meals and assist those who have lost their ability to earn their income because of injury at this point.

So, that diversity that this community has known over the years is a rich cultural heritage that becomes a very strong quality in times of need like this. This community is one that is unbelievably coordinated to those combined efforts of helping someone who is in need.

And that is what I think is happening right now. I can feel it and I see it, and I've experienced it many times before. We're no stranger to the rain that falls in these kind of tragedies in this community.

CHETRY: Well, if it provides any comfort, you all certainly have the prayers of the nation this morning as we continue to wake up to this sad news today.

Mayor Joe Piccolo, from Price, Utah, thanks for joining us.

PICCOLO: Thank you.

MARCIANO: Well, it looks like the markets may open down again today. And Wall Street's woes could mean trouble for Motown.

Ali Velshi with that story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business".

More fallout from the mortgage world.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is one of these things. People keep asking us, what does this all mean? What's this got to -- why are world markets collapsing? How does this affect the stock market, this mortgage business?

Well, one area where it affects it, we just heard from the design master, the design guru at General Motors, Bob Lutz, who was sort of saying that, look, this is going to start affecting things like the auto business. Now, that said, pretty much everything affects the auto business, or at least that's what they say.

But, you know, with house values coming down, people paying more for their mortgages, it definitely affects your -- how rich you feel and how much you're prepared to spend on other things. And the second biggest purchase that most people make -- sometimes the car is the biggest purchase you have, but it's often the second biggest purchase you have.

So if you're not feeling particularly wealthy, the new car is the first thing you don't get. We buy about 16 million cars a year in the United States. Clearly, we don't need that many cars every year. So it's one of those things that is going to go if you're not feeling it. So we're now seeing one area where this mortgage crisis might start to have an impact.

CHETRY: All right. And we'll also be keeping an eye on the market as they...

VELSHI: I will be doing that, yes.

CHETRY: The futures are down this morning.

VELSHI: Still down, exactly. We're going to have another down open.

CHETRY: Ali, thank you.

Well, if you've just been joining us this morning, we've been closely following breaking news. The rescue mission for six trapped miners on hold this morning after another collapse last night in Utah. Three rescuers were killed and six others hurt. What was the emergency rescue plan for this mine? We're getting a closer look at some documents coming to light. We also have the latest details from Utah.

Also one-on-one with Senator John McCain. How is his campaign planning a comeback after some recent hits? He weighs in on his GOP competitors and whether one of them in particular would ever stand a chance at the nomination. That's all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back. It is Friday, August 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano in for John Roberts. And of course, our top story continues to be the cave-in last night at the Utah mine.

CHETRY: Yes, three rescue workers killed and six others injured. And we're following the breaking news there this morning, this second collapse. The mine's owner says that the mountain is still alive, as he puts it, with movement. And that that has forced at least two delays in the rescue in the past two days.

Well, today, the rescue operation is on hold. The governor demanded that the underground search stop until officials can guarantee worker safety. And the question is this morning, can they ever with what has been going on in all of the activity underground?

MARCIANO: Yes, I definitely don't want to be making that decision for sure. Well, six miners were hurt in the accident in addition to those killed. What kinds of injuries are they facing and how are they being treated? Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to help walk us through this.

Sanjay, tell us about the injury these miners likely sustained and give us an idea what the doctors were doing to treat them.

GUPTA: Yes. You know, first of all, it's a dynamic situation, Rob, so we have a lot more information now than we even did a few hours ago. We know there were nine people who were affected by this. Three people have died. It sounds like from everything I've heard, and I've been trying to piece this together over the last several hours, that one person at least died in the hospital and two either died at the mine or en route to the hospital.

But also now, of the six that are injured, one is in critical condition with a head injury. This is sort of blunt trauma injury, Rob, exactly what you might expect from a cave-in. But the good news is the patient seems to be alert, breathing on own as well, which is a very good sign.

One was treated and released which we have talked about already this morning on your show. As far as the other injuries, one patient had a head injury as well, was actually airlifted to a big trauma center.

Why would that happen? There are more resources at a trauma center. There are neurosurgeons standing by in case a patient needs an operation. They are better equipped to be able to deal with the more severe injuries. There are three also with traumatic injuries all being taken care of at Castleview Hospital, a smaller hospital.

They would take care more of things like broken bones, some simple crush injuries, some simple head injuries. We will obviously keep an eye and see how they are doing over the next several hours.

Again, though, Rob, it's a dynamic situation. Patients are being taken care of. Their blood pressures are being stabilized. Some of their more serious injuries or threatening injuries are being stabilized as well -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Sanjay, what we definitely don't know is what about the six trapped miners? And now we're going on over 10 days now, Sanjay. We've asked this question day after day and we ask it again today. What are their chances for survival at this point?

SANJAY: It is hard to say. And I guess that is first part of the answer. Because what exactly happened down in that mine, were they injured at the time of this cave-in or whatever it was? Here is a general rule of thumb though. Without oxygen, someone can survive for minutes, without water for days, without food, for weeks.

We also have had a chance to look at this emergency response plan, which I know you've looked at as well, Rob, and gathered some -- I think some important information. Here is the emergency response plan. And really tried to look at what were the resources available to these miners down there.

What we gathered from it is that within 2,000 feet of a working space, there are certain caches put, certain resources put, including water, including food, and including oxygen. Specifically 10 gallons of water and in terms it of food it's designed for 18 miners, to sustain them for 96 days.

They actually have these meals-ready-to-eat down there, sustain 18 miners for 96 hours. They also keep enough oxygen cylinders for 18 miners to sustain them for 96 hours as well. And they keep soda lime to basically try and scrub out carbon dioxide that might build up in a confined space.

Again, that's all based on 18 miners. In this case there are six miners. So obviously you are going to have more supplies but we're still coming up against that window of exhausting any supplies that they may have been able to get to.

Rob, add to that the possibility of hypothermia. It is chilly down there, as you've heard from Gary Tuchman, add to that the fact that we know the oxygen concentration was 15 percent, well below 21 percent, which is the concentration of oxygen in normal air. I don't know if it could make someone lethargic, it could even make someone stuporous or comatose, and these are considerations as well.

Just don't have enough information to say for sure right now -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Well, there are certainly lots of things working against them, but we can at least think about a hopeful situation where they can get to those supplies. Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: Right now we are also getting a look at the emergency rescue plan for the mine. Our Alina Cho joins us now with more on that.

A plan can be approved and then actually putting into action, as we've seen here, and can prove very difficult.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's absolutely right. You know, we're shining a spotlight, especially in light of this second disaster, guys. You know, we were actually able to track down a letter to the mine owner sent by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It was dated June 13th of this year, just two months ago.

And it says that that emergency response plan submitted by the Crandall Canyon Mine had been reviewed and actually approved in its entirety. It also states that the response plan must be looked at and updated every six months.

Now updates would include relocation of escape ways, changes in the mine layout, even changes in the way they go about mining. Now what is interesting is that very same letter says that all portions of the emergency response plan must be "implemented immediately, with the exception," and this is key, "of breathable air provisions," which, according to the letter, must be in place by 60 days from the date of the letter.

So it is unclear whether those breathable air provisions were actually put into place prior to the mine collapse. But they would include so-called safe havens and enough oxygen cylinders for 18 miners for 96 hours. Sanjay was talking about that a bit earlier as well.

Now following the second disaster, it is still unclear whether the rescue effort for the six trapped miners will continue. For now it has been suspended indefinitely. Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, Kiran spoke with Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who said the situation has now moved from tragedy to catastrophe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JON HUNTSMAN (R), UTAH: I, for one, as governor of this state, feel pretty strongly that we shouldn't let another person in the underground mine until we can guarantee their safety. We've seen too much over the last week-and-a-half, and we need to begin to learn from some of these lessons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: In fact, a source with intimate knowledge to the mine tells CNN that some rescue workers actually expressed concerns about working in the area of the mine collapse. But, guys, the mine owner, Bob Murray, has said repeatedly that he heard no such thing from any workers and he dismisses these reports as rumors.

But of course, there are a lot of questions now, especially in light of this second mine disaster, about safety there. And more importantly at this juncture, whether the rescue will continue.

CHETRY: And until they can answer those questions, it's stopped this morning.

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: Alina, thank you.

MARCIANO: Thanks, Alina. Of course, that disaster follows one the day before in South America. Updated numbers now still coming out of Peru following a devastating earthquake there. The U.S. Geological Survey now says the quake was stronger than first thought, 8.0 magnitude. At least 400 people killed. Let's get the latest now live from CNN's Harris Whitbeck. He is live in Ica, Peru.

Good morning, Harris.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rob, good morning. Residents of hundreds of communities that were devastated by the earthquake are just getting up, just waking up after having passed another night sleeping outside of their homes. Many of them sleeping outside on the streets because they have no homes left. Others sleeping outside because they're still afraid of aftershocks. We're in one town, the town of Laviqtoria (ph), which is part of Ica where 42 families spent the night outside. They said they felt a tremor at about 1:00 this morning. The people are terrified and they feel very uncertain about what the future holds for them. This particular community, Laviqtoria, actually moved to this location back in 1998 after their original town was flooded.

And they said that they had moved to this part of the country -- this part of Ica because they felt that it was safer here. Then they were, of course, victims of the very, very strong earthquake last Wednesday. Many, many houses completely destroyed. Again, people sleeping outside because they have nowhere else to go.

People here specifically say that they have received no aid, no visits from any government officials or aid officials. Rescue officials are concentrating their work in major towns like Pisco where, since after the earthquake, rescuers have been digging frantically through the rubble of buildings.

A church there -- the main church on the public square, completely caved in. Hundreds of worshippers were inside that church when it caved in and rescuers say that they still feel there are dozens of bodies inside the rubble of that church.

As time goes by, the Peruvian authorities say that more is being done. An airlift has been organized from Lima to the military base here at Pisco. They are bringing in blankets, medicine, food, water, water contamination tablets and so forth. This, as you know, is wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere. So the nights can get quite chilly.

And there is a grave concern for the health of the people who are spending their nights sleeping in the streets because they have nowhere else to go -- Rob.

MARCIANO: A devastating scene there in Peru. Harris Whitbeck, live for us in Peru. Thanks, Harris.

CHETRY: And here at home, the Texas Gulf Coast is still swamped with the rain from Tropical Storm Erin. At least five people have died in the storm. Seven inches of rain falling in Houston. Our Sean Callebs is there right now where the rain has stopped for the moment.

Sean, we see these pictures and you see these minivans trying to make it through what looks like several inches of water. A recipe for disaster.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, without question. We were on the coast yesterday. And it was just a question of how much rain would fall. It was just a tropical depression when it came ashore, but Erin doing a great deal of damage in this area.

If I pull out of the way, you can see there is a grocery store, you can see the wall of the grocery store right behind me. It is ringed with police tape. Yesterday during the rainfall, seven inches falling in this area, the roof gave way, killing one person inside that grocery store.

Also in Houston, an 18-wheeler ran off into a road into a retention pond. That person died as well. The whole central area of Texas is punished by rain. In San Antonio, a number of deaths as well.

And we have some amazing pictures of people actually had to get out of cars because the water was rising so fast. We know at least one person was swept away. There was also on head-on collision that killed three people, authorities are still investigating that, trying to determine if indeed foul weather was the primary cause of that fatal accident.

And you know what? The people here aren't out of the woods yet. We spoke with emergency management officials here in Houston area as well as San Antonio. They're expecting, get this, four to six inches of rain in the Houston area today and there is nowhere for that water to go.

So they're very concerned about flash flooding continuing. And we know San Antonio is still under a flash flood watch. They had to evacuate a number of people early this morning so they can only hope that that area doesn't get hit by more rainfall.

And, Kiran, we have to mention, still brewing, not far -- that's going to come into the picture the next several days, Hurricane Dean. So Houston officials very worried about that.

They have to think back to 2001 when Allison punished this area with tremendous amount of rainfall over a 48-hour period, killing a number of people. And they certainly don't want a repeat of that -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Not at all. All right. Sean Callebs live for us in Houston, thank you.

It is 44 minutes past the hour. Our Bonnie Schneider is checking and watching the extreme weather for us as well across the country.

Hi there, Bonnie.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kiran. We just got the 8:00 advisory in on Hurricane Dean, and this is still a large and powerful storm right now. We have maximum winds still at about 100 miles per hour but warnings and watches in place for a good portion of the Caribbean.

As the storm crosses from the Atlantic into the Caribbean Sea, it's likely only to intensify. So a hurricane watch is now in effect for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We also have warnings in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands and also for Puerto Rico. Tropical storm warnings continue as the storm pulls away.

I want to show you the track right now, not much of a change really. We have the storm center 174 miles from Barbados. By tomorrow morning this Category 2 status will remain, but once we start heading into Sunday, and that storm works its way over the warmer waters of the Caribbean, we will be looking at Category 4 strength, possibly up to 135 miles per hour.

Well, the U.S. mainland certainly is watching what happens then after that. And whether or not the storm interacts here with the Yucatan will really determine how intense it will be once it enters the Gulf of Mexico. We'll be watching that closely.

But notice the cone of uncertainty stretching all the way from Cuba down through the Yucatan. This is likely to grow and expand as we work our way through the next couple of days and we will watch it here on CNN -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes. It certainly looks like it's growing and getting bigger. All right. Bonnie Schneider, thanks so much.

Still ahead, Senator John McCain is speaking out about his belief that we're winning the war in Iraq and how that opinion may have hurt him in his race for the White House. I go one-on-one with John McCain coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Turning to politics now, one-on-one with Senator John McCain. I had a chance to talk to him last night in our newsroom about why he thinks he lost his lead in the GOP race for president. At one point he was the frontrunner, and now he is running third in the latest CNN poll.

He says he thinks it's immigration, not his support of the war that cost him. Senator McCain's new book is "Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them." Well, we talked to him about the hard calls that he has had to make in his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: Let's talk about the campaign a little bit. You started off the year as the Republican frontrunner, as we know. Fallen behind Rudy Giuliani, and in fact, this poll of polls coming from us from August 10th shows you in third behind Fred Thompson, who hasn't even declared. What is your comeback strategy?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Campaigns have ups and downs, but we're getting great turnouts at the town hall meetings, the money is coming in OK, and I believe I can convince the American people that I'm the most prepared to meet the challenge of the 21st Century, which is the struggle against radical Islamic extremism.

CHETRY: Why is it in polls that is not always atop of mind? Domestic issues seem to dominate, immigration, worries about health care. What if people just aren't buying that that is their biggest concern?

MCCAIN: Because, in all due respect to any poll, every poll I've seen is the war in Iraq -- they call it war on terror, I don't like to use that phrase particularly, but the struggle against radical Islamic fundamentalism as the overwhelming concern that people have. And it should be, because we're in a titanic struggle against a force of evil that wants to destroy everything we stand for and believe in.

CHETRY: It seems you've been painted as being a huge supporter of the president's Iraq strategy. Is that an inaccurate portrayal?

MCCAIN: It's entertaining in that I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three-and-a-half years. I came back from my first trip to Iraq and said this is going to fail, we have got to change the strategy to the one we're using now. But life isn't fair.

But I do believe that this general, who will report back in the middle of September, as you know, and the strategy, is succeeding.

CHETRY: CNN had a poll out today that found that more than half of the respondents say that they don't trust the report to paint an accurate picture of what is really going on in Iraq. Do you trust that the report will be an accurate portray from Petraeus?

MCCAIN: I've totally believed that it will be an accurate report. And I think when the American people see General Petraeus give it, I think those numbers may change. Look, I understand the frustration because the war was mishandled for so long. But I think they'll believe it.

And I think at the end of the day, the Americans want us to succeed. They're just frustrated that we haven't.

CHETRY: Out of all the profiles in the book that you talk about in your latest book, which one touched you the most that you could relate to the most personally?

MCCAIN: I would think Harry Truman. You know? He stood up against the odds. His friends told him that if he moved forward with the appointing of a commission to integrate the armed services that he would lose the next election, that even his own family members thought it was the wrong thing to do.

Yet, in his heart, he knew that we should do everything we can to make sure that all God's children are equal.

CHETRY: Back to the campaign for a second. Do you still love it as much as you did back in 2000?

MCCAIN: It's such an opportunity. It's wonderful. I stood fifth from the bottom of my class at the Naval Academy. The crowds, which makes it -- in America, anything is possible. It's such a wonderful honor to have the privilege of not only serving, but seeking the highest office and most important position in the world that I'm humbled by.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHETRY: So there was John McCain. You know, he also -- when he talked about immigration in our first hour, he admitted that the American people were not buying the comprehensive reform that -- what he has seen. Because he has talked about getting death threats because of the anger toward his position helping craft that McCain/Kennedy bill.

He says if he had to do it over again he would make sure that he pushed a border security first initiative because he says people have lost faith that the government and the leaders will actually secure the borders.

MARCIANO: Optimistic about the campaign? Can he come back?

CHETRY: He says he is. And we'll just have to see how it goes, and a lot of states to get through. The early states, of course, South Carolina, Iowa, as well as New Hampshire. So we'll see after that.

MARCIANO: Great interview.

CHETRY: Thank you.

MARCIANO: All right. Whole Foods has got the OK to gobble up its biggest rival. Ali Velshi has that story next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: Welcome back. Time for business talk. Ali Velshi here talking about Whole Foods, yet brings no food to share.

VELSHI: I know. I should have. I'm a bit of a food guy. In fact, Rob and I had a lovely lunch yesterday.

MARCIANO: It was lovely, thank you.

VELSHI: But now that I think about it, we could have gone downstairs. We went upstairs to the cafeteria. We could have gone to Whole Foods, because it is in the news today.

CHETRY: You guys were eating with the cool kids in the cafeteria.

VELSHI: We were eating with the cool kids in the cafeteria. Now Whole Foods is trying to take over Wild Oats, I don't really spend much time at either of those two places. And the Federal Trade Commission was trying to block that sale. Yesterday a district judge in Washington said the Federal Trade Commission can't block the sale. So for now those two are going to be able to merge.

However, one of my favorite restaurants in the entire world, I think I'm allowed to say this on TV, is Olive Garden. Parent company -- Red Lobster, I'm a member of the Overboard Club there, Darden Restaurants, the parent company of both of those two, is buying Rare Hospitality, which is the owner of the fancy-schmancy Capital Grille Steakhouses across the country, and the LongHorn Steakhouses. I don't know if any of you have ever been to LongHorn. Kiran, they have what is called the Texan Tonion there, which is a jumbo Spanish onion lightly battered, fried and sprinkled with Prairie Dust and tangy dipping sauce.

CHETRY: Right. It comes with Plavix on the side.

(LAUGHTER)

VELSHI: Right.

MARCIANO: Definitely low-fat.

VELSHI: You know, after a while you just give up the...

(CROSSTALK)

MARCIANO: Nice plug for Olive Garden, more free salad for you.

VELSHI: Love Olive Garden, love the free salad.

CHETRY: And all the soup and bread sticks you can eat. All right, Ali, congratulations.

VELSHI: Exactly.

CHETRY: We're going to check in with Ali a little bit later as well. He is keeping a close eye on the markets, big rollercoaster of a day yesterday. We will expect much of the same?

We're also following the latest details out of the Utah at the Crandall Canyon Mine. Has the state's governor demand that the underground search stop made a difference? What is going to happen there? How can they make sure no one else gets hurt? And is there still hope for those six miners trapped underground going into the 12th day now? We're live in Utah with the very latest on AMERICAN MORNING.

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