Return to Transcripts main page

Breaking News

Tragedy at Sago Mine in West Virginia

Aired January 04, 2006 - 12:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan. We're going to preempt international news at this hour to bring you the latest as we await a news conference from officials of the Sago Mine. That is where 12 of 13 trapped miners are confirmed dead.
Company executives will certainly face questions over mistakes that led to a heart-wrenching turn of events for family members.

First, relatives say they were told 11 of their loved ones were found alive and would soon be brought to them. Then, in a cruel upheaval of emotions, the company announced that there was only a single survivor of the tragedy.

Here now sounds from today.


BEN HATFIELD, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: It's a very emotional time. The employees' families are grief-stricken and, frankly, angry. And I'm not surprised or upset with them because they certainly have some -- some basis for their -- for their frustration, having been put through this emotional roller-coaster. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I regret that it's happened. I would do anything if it had not happened.

QUESTION: Sir, we can see the disappointment on your face. What was it like talking to those families?

HATFIELD: It's beyond belief. Welcome to the worst day of my life.


KAGAN: And as I was saying, we do expect to hear more from Ben Hatfield any minute from West Virginia. We'll go to that live as soon as it begins. A live picture there for you from the room where that news conference will take place.

So this initial report that 11 of the 12 miners were alive came in as many East Coast and national newspapers were printing their morning editions. It is a dark irony to read those headlines now. You can look at some of them.

This is the Atlanta newspaper. You can see printed "12 Miners Alive." And then "USA Today," they have "12 Miners Found Alive" as well.

And this is just a couple of the newspapers.

We want to take you back now to CNN's coverage of the initial report that 12 of the miners were alive, and then as events clearly had changed.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news. We do not know exactly what is going on here in Upshur County. They are ringing the bells of the church. This is the first time that has occurred.

We heard some shouting over at the church.

You're a friend of Terry Helms. Terry was -- what have you heard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just come out of the mine, said we got 12 alive. That's good news.

COOPER: Where did you -- who told you that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just come out of the mines and sent an official down, said we got 12 alive.

COOPER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Charlie -- Charlie, we've got to -- come back to us.

Wait, wait, wait, come here. What's happening?

LYNETTE ROBY, WITNESSED DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: There's only one -- there's only one made it out alive. And I think the name was Randall War (ph). The governor's in there, and this big in charge CEO of the mine is apologizing. And it's all -- they did nothing but -- I don't know how this information could come out that people were alive.

COOPER: Where have...

ROBY: There's only one person alive and he's en route to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is stunned right now. Everybody's stunned and sickened to their stomach. We feel like we've been lied to. We feel like we've been lied to all along.

I don't even know if the governor knew the truth or not. I think he was here, I think that he's done everything he could. And I don't even know if they told him the truth or not.

HATFIELD: What happened is that through stray cell phone conversations, it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue team underground to the command center was picked up by various people that simply overheard a conversation, was relayed through cell phone communications without our ever having made a release. International Coal Group never made any release about all 12 of the miners being -- being alive and well.

MANCHIN: It had to be a miscommunication, misinterpretation, something. I don't think that anyone would have said if something was different than what they found.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finally they come. Mr. Hatfield, the CEO of the mines, he'd say he didn't know nothing. Finally, he come up and he said they was all living.

He even give us the directions of how he was bringing them in, he was going to take the emergency car, go up and get them. He was going to bring them to the church, to the families. Not only my family, but all families.

And he was supposed to come back within an hour. He come back three hours later with the news that they're gone, that there is no survivors. We want to know why and how people can get by with this.


KAGAN: As we were saying, the head of the mine company, Ben Hatfield, says that he understands the anger of family members. And we do expect to hear more from him in a news conference any moment. We will bring that to you live here on CNN.

The Sago Baptist Church has been a place of refuge for families and friends of the trapped miners. It is the place where people kept vigil, where information was passed, including the joyful news that tragically turned out to be false. Today the church is a place of mourning.

CNN's Kimberly Osais is outside the church with more on that.

Kim, hello.


Well, I tell you, it is a desolate place right now. I was up there earlier. There were a couple of family members, of course. They haven't had sleep for days. And as you can well imagine, this has just been a real whirlwind of emotions.

I've been speaking to them on the telephone. And some of them are actually doing that grisly work today of going to hear about autopsies, to identify the bodies. And these families have told me that even though this has been an incredibly unfortunate ending to a tragic, tragic story -- I mean, everybody was hoping for the best. Everybody wanted a situation like Quecreek.

Everybody wanted a Pennsylvania. They wanted to believe that it would happen. They wanted so badly that the miracle happened here to their men. You know, these families say that they thank everybody for their tireless work and their prayers and everybody being out here feeding them, offering other shoulders to sort of cry on and campfires to spend time and to regale one another with stories. And one family, this is Jerry Groves. He is a 56-year-old bolter, what's known as a bolter, who puts actually bolts in the ceiling of the mine.

Now this is a -- you know, talking about Jerry, and you've heard everybody talk about how this is a business that crosses many generations. You know, he is a third generation minor. Actually, he had his own father's tools. His father passed away, although not from mining. But he carried his tools. They don't know if they were on him that particular day, but that was really a source of pride for him.

And you know, this -- this family, again, as it was such an incredibly hard and tragic ending, they say that they -- all the prayers go out to the one 27-year-old that is still in the hospital nearby -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Kimberly Osias, live in West Virginia.

We have more on that one survivor now in this mining accident. He said he wanted to quit his job. Anna McCloy says that her husband Randal told her the work was too dangerous.

Twenty-seven-year-old Randal McCloy, Jr. has been working in the mines for three years, half of that time at this Sago mine. He met his wife in grade school. They have two children, a 4-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl.

McCloy is a licensed electrician. But family members say he could make more money in the mines, so that's where he was working.

As we have reported, McCloy is right now in Morgantown, West Virginia, in a hospital there. He is listed in critical condition.

Let's get an update now on his condition, where he -- after he spent 41 hours trapped inside the Sago Mine.

Chris Huntington is at the hospital -- he's at the hospital in West Virginia, where McCloy is being treated.

Chris, hello.


The latest word from the hospital here, and particularly coming from the head of the trauma unit here at the University of West Virginia Hospital, Lawrence Roberts, the doctor who gave the press conference earlier today, is that Randal McCloy remains in critical but stable condition.

The worst of his injuries, apparently, a partially collapsed lung. But Dr. Roberts was optimistic about the progress they're making in inflating that lung, if you will.

Also good news is that apparently McCloy's exposure to carbon monoxide, while there was evidence of that, he is regaining oxygenation of his blood. Critical to his recovery.

He remains under heavy sedation. So essentially still asleep. He was said to have been breathing on his own when he first came here to this hospital at about 3:00 a.m., but they have since put a breathing tube in, as well as assisting his breathing with a ventilator. But the doctor was clear that McCloy was able to breathe on his own.

Here are some other comments that Dr. Roberts had regarding McCloy's condition.


DR. LARRY ROBERTS, RUBY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: In many other ways, he's relatively uninjured. But the degree of dehydration that he suffered, the prolonged immobility that he obviously suffered, have both played significantly and are causing him to remain in critical shape.


HUNTINGTON: Now Daryn, in about an hour, at 1:15 local time, we are going to have another press conference here. We're told there will be another press conference presumably with Dr. Roberts. So at that point in time we should get an update on Randal McCloy's condition.

Who is Randal McCloy? You described, Daryn, on the way in a licensed electrician, somebody who was perhaps looking for the -- for a way out of the mining business, a father of two children.

Earlier this week on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer, we got a glimpse of Randal McCloy in a discussion with his sister, Lila Muncy. Here's an excerpt from that.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Why did he decide to become a coal miner?

LILA MUNCY, RANDAL MCCLOY'S SISTER: The money, basically. You know, it's better money in West Virginia. I mean, you know, there's not that many opportunities around here. And he felt that was, you know, the way to go right now.

He was always very cautious, you know. And every -- you know, every morning he would tell his wife, you know, "God bless you," you know, before he left for work because he always knew the danger.


HUNTINGTON: So Randal McCloy, 27 years old, critical but stable condition, father of two, said to have married his childhood sweetheart.

You heard his sister there say that he got in the mining business for the money. Daryn, as we go forward and try and get an understanding of this whole situation, that is one of the themes that's going to come through, that the folks in this part of the country take to the mines because of the money. There is money there. It's such dangerous work, but it's such a tough tradeoff, pay for potential grave harm -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And conflicting reports. You know, so much was made of the carbon monoxide levels inside this mine. The first report said that he hadn't been exposed to carbon monoxide, and then perhaps that he had.

Any update on that, Chris?

HUNTINGTON: Well, the direct word from the doctors here is that Randal McCloy did show evidence of elevated carbon monoxide in his bloodstream. So certainly he had some exposure to it.

You know, a couple of days ago when we got that reading from one test drill hole of extremely high levels of carbon monoxide, not clear if that was near or even close to where the miners were located at the time. But the word from the doctors here is that, while McCloy suffered some exposure to carbon monoxide, he is improving on that front, getting more oxygen into his bloodstream -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Chris Huntington. Thank you.

So we should be getting two important updates over the next hour. You heard Chris mention there should be an update from the doctors in West Virginia within the next hour.

Also, the live picture you see on the other side of your screen there also coming from West Virginia. We expect to hear from the CEO of International Coal Group that owns the Sago Mine. And we have been standing by for quite a while waiting for that one to begin. As soon as it does you'll see it live here on CNN.

So, with so many questions still unanswered in this tragedy and all the anguish of the aftermath, we take a few moments now to make sure that those who were lost are remembered. The Associated Press gathered the names and some details about many of the victims.


KAGAN (voice over): Alva Martin Bennett was known as "Marty." Relatives say mining was the only job they can remember him doing in his 50 years. Like many in this tight-knit community, working in the mine was a family tradition. His father and son worked as miners as well.

Sixty-one-year-old Jim Bennett was known as a religious man who said he loved working in the mine. His son-in-law says he prayed every day for those going to toil underground. He had planned to retire this year.

Fifty-seven-year-old Jerry Groves had been a coal miner for more than 30 years. His father, grandfather and brother were miners, too. Fifty-year-old Terry Helms mined coal for 35 years, but he wouldn't let his son become a miner. His sister said that Helms was the first one to go down into the mine on Monday morning before the deadly blast.

David Lewis worked in the mine so he could stay at home at night with his three daughters while his wife went to school. He was 28 years old.

Martin Toler was a mine foreman. The 50-year-old had worked with his son Chris. And Chris says he had planned to tell his dad to retire.

Fifty-nine-year-old Fred Ware had been getting ready for a Valentine's Day wedding. He'd been a miner for six years. His fiancee says he always told her he believed he would die in the mines.

Jack Weaver was 52. Marshall Winans was 49 years old. And all we know of George Hamner, Jr. so far is his name.



KAGAN: Live pictures from West Virginia, awaiting remarks from the mining company CEO about what happened in West Virginia. Also about the miscommunication that 12 of the miners were alive. Just even more tragedy and heartbreak for the families of the miners.

We will go there when it begins live in West Virginia.


KAGAN: As we stand by waiting for this news conference to begin in West Virginia, let's bring you the remarks that we just heard in the last hour live here on CNN. President Bush expressing his sympathy to the families of the 12 miners who died in West Virginia.

White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins us live with that part of the story.

Suzanne, hello.


Of course part of his remarks, the president talking about the war on terror. But also very interesting to here, the broader context, is that this is an administration following Hurricane Katrina and the hailing of that, that wants to show that the president is in tune with Americans suffering, and that in fact the government is quick to respond and quick to act.

This was President Bush just within the last hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today our nation mourns those who lost their lives in the mining accident in West Virginia. We send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the loved ones who -- whose hearts are broken. We ask that the good lord comfort them in their time of need.

I want to thank the governor of West Virginia for showing such compassion. And I want to thank those who risked their lives to save those miners for showing such courage.

May god bless the good people of West Virginia.


MALVEAUX: And Daryn, really the White House has made an effort to really show that the president was briefed about this yesterday, that he received regular updates, even releasing a photo of the president making a phone call, reaching out to the governor of West Virginia, offering federal resources.

And really this is through the Department of Labor. The Mine Safety and Health Administration, today we heard from that administration announcing that they were not only responsible, of course, for the efforts and the resources involving the rescue mission, but now they are launching a full investigation, first of all, behind the accident, what was the cause of this. And then secondly, really that miscommunication that family members got that the relatives were alive and then later found out that that was not the case.

We heard from the secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, as well, saying that she made this pledge today that they will take all the necessary steps to ensure that this never happens again -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

Suzanne, thank you.

So this tragedy is putting a new focus today on mine safety. Records show that Sago has been cited dozens of times for federal violations.

Mark Radomsky is the director of miner training at Penn State University, and he is on the phone right now from State College Pennsylvania.

Mark, thank you for being here with us.


KAGAN: Let's talk about what we know so far about what took place in the mine. They say they did find that the miners were able to put up a piece of material as a barrier to try to protect themselves and use their breathing apparatus. So we do know that the 12 miners who died were alive for some period of time.

RADOMSKY: That's correct.

KAGAN: And so do you think that the timing here and the amount of time it took to get down here was a factor in rescuing the other 12?

RADOMSKY: Well, in any emergency you're always working against the clock. That's your number one enemy.

I just want to point out that, you know, mine rescue is a most difficult endeavor and operation. And it's a very, very hostile environment.

KAGAN: And those that try to even partake in the rescue, they are risking their lives themselves.

RADOMSKY: Well, absolutely. And, you know, if you rush in, and if you try to reventilate the mine, for example, you could risk a secondary explosion and put those rescuers at risk. So they do have to follow procedure. And they are well trained to do that.

KAGAN: We were hearing yesterday about the holes they were drilling. I think there were three. And one of them actually was very close to where the miners ultimately were.

Is it a guessing game when you are trying to figure out where you are trying to rescue the miners?

RADOMSKY: Well, a little bit of it's guessing. But they have very good maps and very good techniques to locate, you know, the proper place to drill.

KAGAN: What about the number of violations, 199 violations on this mine in 2005? Does that concern you?

RADOMSKY: Well, it's always a concern. But, you know, you don't know about the particular violations and how they relate to this situation. So that'll just have to wait.

KAGAN: To wait and see on that.

I also heard a miner say as this was unfolding he was concerned in saying that the union no longer represents the coal miners. That the way it's set up, coal miners can't speak up about safety concerns because they fear losing their jobs.

RADOMSKY: Well, that's -- that's really up for argument. Every miner has miner's rights. And really, if they feel there's an imminent danger, they can, of course, go through the chain of command. And if they don't get satisfaction, they can call the MSHA directly.

KAGAN: The only thing that can come from this tragedy is learning and trying to prevent future -- future problems and future tragedies. What would you like to see? What would you like to know and learn of how this all unfolded?

RADOMSKY: Well, I have a lot of questions, as everyone does. And they are going to launch a couple of accident investigations and find out the causes, and hopefully the root causes. And hopefully they can make some changes and enhance mine safety not only for that mine, but for mines nationwide.

KAGAN: And I guess it would be two-part. First, the initial explosion, what caused that. And then, two, the rescue operation.

RADOMSKY: Exactly. Exactly. You want to find the causes. And you want to also evaluate the rescue operations, see if they can be improved. And specifically, you want to look at this communication situation which is also critical.

KAGAN: Well, exactly. What's happened in the three hours? How did word get out that 12 miners were alive and one was dead when, in fact, the truth was the exact opposite? And then why did it take so long for family members to be communicated with?

RADOMSKY: I think those are -- those are issues that need to be addressed and resolved. You're right.

KAGAN: Ultimately -- before I let you go, I would like - I would like to know from you because I'm curious what questions -- you say you do have some specific questions yourself about what you would like to know. What would those be?

RADOMSKY: Well, there are questions obviously about the cause of the explosion, the ignition, the concentrations of gas. I really don't have too many questions about the procedure of the mine rescue team because I know that their safety is, you know, the number one priority in these situations.

But there are a lot of questions about, you know, were the miners -- you know why didn't they try to go out of the mine? Why did they make the decision to barricade themselves and wait to be rescued and so forth?

KAGAN: Well, it might be a little early to get answers to those questions in the news conference that's coming up in just a bit. But we will be listening in.

Mark Radomsky from Penn State, a mining expert.

Thank you for your time today.

RADOMSKY: You're welcome. You're welcome.

KAGAN: And as I was mentioning, this news conference we thought originally was going to begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, then we were told noon, now we are getting close to 12:30. Whenever it does begin, it will be with the CEO of the International Coal Group, who owns the Sago Mine, Ben Hatfield. And you will see that news conference live right here on CNN.

While we wait for that to begin, let's take a break. We're back after this.


KAGAN: That donut shop sign says it all, "Only one miracle." In the end, only one miner of the 13 did survive in Tallmansville, West Virginia.

We're standing by for a news conference -- you see the box in the bottom of your screen -- with the CEO, Ben Hatfield, of the International Coal Group. When that begins, we'll go right to it live here on CNN. It is the main reason we have interrupted our international news coverage for today during this hour.

It has been such a difficult over 40 hours for the families of these miners, especially the three hours that lapsed between the time when they were initially told that 12 of the miners had survived, only to find out three hours later that, indeed, it was the reverse. Only one miner survived and 12 were dead.

The family members were gathered at the local church. And one man, John Casto, who is a friend of the miners, had gathered with other friends and family members. And he described so well in heartbreaking detail what it was like to be inside that church.

Let's listen in again as he spoke earlier today to our Miles O'Brien.


JOHN CASTO, FRIEND OF MINERS: Me and my brother was in the community building, we call it, hooked onto the church. And we was waiting for them to come over and give us a briefing on what was going on because they come over every so often. And when we was waiting, we just heard a commotion, people hollering and shouting and saying, "They're alive! They're alive!"

And so I went around the building. And when I got around the building, a lot of people was done and out of the church. And then I couldn't understand what was going on. But I began to ask questions, but this is just hearsay. And they said the governor was ready to give a speech and somebody came through the back door, which I -- they didn't know who it was. I don't know who it was.

And they said that there was a miracle. They are miracles. They are miracles. There are 12 people alive in the mines and one dead.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Who was that person? No one knows?

CASTO: I don't know, but if he's watching right now, I would love for him to let us know that he done this thing. And I don't understand why he done it. No one understands.

M. O'BRIEN: How do you feel about having to go through that and wait upwards of three hours to get the real story? What emotion does that leave you with?

CASTO: Well, it was a terrible thing for the loved ones because they understood that there was 12 of them alive under there and they was pretty sure they knew which one was dead. And we rejoiced for the ones that was alive. And we mourned for the one that was lost, supposedly.

And we was told that the ambulance would go over and pick them up and they would bring them over and they would feed them and they would bring them to the hallway and down the hallway into the church and the immediate family would talk to them; they would rejoice with them when they got there. And then the friends could rejoice.

And we waited and waited and it must have been three-and-a-half hours. But the loved ones and the family was out on the porch wrapped in blankets awaiting for their fathers or their brothers to come up and just give them a hug, because that's what we was told, they was -- they was alive.

And when we began to see the black vehicles come up through there and the state police -- and they all come in there, we still thought they was alive. We still was a looking for them to come through the door, just like we was told.

But then when they come up there -- names is not good for me, because I can't remember a name. Names don't matter to me, really, because I believe that we're all brothers. But there was somebody come up there, I think it was a mine official, and said well, I'm sorry of the delay, because he was supposed to have been there earlier, I think 11:00, maybe. But this was like 2:30 or whatever it was. It doesn't really matter, really, to me.

But he come up there and said he was sorry for the delay and he said I've told you the truth clear through. I told you that I was going to tell you the truth and I'm here to tell you the truth now. And he said that there was one survivor.

And I believe that everybody was stunned because they didn't really understand what he was saying. Some people didn't really know what he said. But there was a couple of people that understood what he said, and they began to shout and curse and -- but just a few minutes before that they was praising God and then they was cursing because they thought they lost a loved one. Well, they knew they did at the time.

But, anyway, they got them settled down. And another one asked, said what are you saying? And this guy said, there are 12 dead and one alive. And you know it hit them people's hearts so hard. They didn't know what to do, didn't know what to do at all. But, you know, they began to holler and curse. And our pastor, we stay, got them settled down and he said look toward God in this tragedy. And one guy, I don't believe in cussing, but one guy said what in the hell has God done for us?

But just a few minutes before that, we was praising God because they believed they was alive. But the one that had loved ones that they knew was dead was over in the other room. And, you know, we praise when we know that 12 was alive and we mourn when the one was gone. And the pastor asked the one -- the people to come up and pray for the one that was gone and you know there was three people came up to that altar and prayed. Because I notice things like that. And they was tears flowing down their eyes and I began to pray with them. There was tears flowing down my eyes. I couldn't understand why the other 400 or 500 was just sitting back there talking about the ones that was alive. I couldn't understand that.

You know, I'm not (INAUDIBLE) these people under that hill over there, but each and every one of them is a brother to me. Each and every one of them. Because you're my brother and you're my brother, the way I look at it, because I love Christ. And we're going to pray for each and every one of these people. We're going to pray that this community believes today in peace and always be in peace in the town of Sago.

KAGAN: Once again, that man's name, John Casto, who spoke so eloquently about what took place inside the Sago Baptist Church. He spoke earlier today on "AMERICAN MORNING."

And a reminder that CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING" starts at 6:00 a.m. Today they started at 4:00 a.m. Eastern to bring you the latest breaking news. So they are ready to do that, as well as warm things up here. We take over at 10:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Standing by once again for this news conference out of West Virginia. It was supposed to start first at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, then noon. We're now at 12:35 p.m. Eastern. It does look like there might be some movement and that they are getting ready to speak. The CEO of International Coal Group will be speaking there. A lot of questions for him, for the company, about what took place in the mine, the rescue efforts and the miscommunication with the family.

We'll fit in a break here and we're back after this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two hundred and eight violations on them for safety and they can't shut it down for the safety of our families? And then tell our families they're coming out alive and then one of them comes out and the rest of them's dead? That's not even right.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you blame the governor as well, ma'am?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Don't blame the governor.


KAGAN: And that was the heartbreaking news as it unfolded overnight, news that only one survivor was released to the families behind closed doors. But it exploded only moments later here on CNN.

A woman who was inside that cloistered gathering rushed the shocking news to CNN's Anderson Cooper and here's how that unfolded.


LYNETTE ROBY, WITNESSED DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT: There's only one that made it out alive. And I think the name was Randall Ware (ph). The governor's in there. And this big, in charge CEO of the mine is apologizing. And it's all -- they did nothing but -- I don't this information could come out that this...

COOPER: Where have...

ROBY: There's one person alive and he's already been moved to the hospital.

COOPER: Where have you gotten this information?


ROBY: From the CEO who's been on the news.

COOPER: You were inside the church?

ROBY: Yes, we were inside the church, and...

COOPER: And you said there's fistfighting now.


ROBY: People are screaming, you're a liar. You've lied to us.

COOPER: Wait. Come over here, please. Stand over here.

ROBY: It's been misinformation, and it's awful.

COOPER: And you kids were in the church, too.


COOPER: And you heard this.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, we tried to run away.

ROBY: I took the kids, and we ran out of the church as fast as we can. There were...

COOPER: I can hear yelling now over at the church.

ROBY: Yes, they're screaming and yelling, and the police are in a big brawl. I don't know how something like this could happen, how drag the kids out of bed at this time in the morning to celebrate. And you know, this is the -- and it's not true. So far, there's one person, and I believe the name is Randal Ware (sic). Before the big break, but it's -- they need to know that to the best of my knowledge, 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... COOPER: This is unbelievable.

ROBY: It's totally -- it's the worst thing that I've ever heard. I don't know how this information could get this far, and now -- we knew something was strange when the governor was coming in with just hugging -- it must be his wife. But just a look of total, total disbelief. And what we've just heard, I've never seen anything like it. I mean, these people have been -- these families have been through so -- for you know, close to 45 hours now, and...

COOPER: I'm completely stunned.

ROBY: It's so. It's so -- yes...

COOPER: You went into the --- tell me your name again. We talked earlier.

ROBY: Lynette Roby.

COOPER: Lynette Roby.

ROBY: We were coming and chasing with the -- this is Kee Kee (ph).

COOPER: And Kee Kee and Travis, I remember, OK.

ROBY: So, OK, the nation, everyone needs to know that is not true. Doesn't mean that the prayers can't be -- can't still keep coming in, but there's only one, only one so far has made it out alive.

COOPER: Well, we've been hearing. We've just been talking to the doctor who's at the hospital. That patient is in critical condition.

ROBY: Yes.

COOPER: What exactly did you hear?

ROBY: He was apologizing. He said that...

COOPER: This is the governor, or the CEO of the company?

ROBY: No, no, the CEO of mine.


ROBY: Yes.

COOPER: So he -- where were you in the church?

ROBY: We were right up front, right up front we followed the cars coming in. We saw the governor, and we were running with cars then coming in. What we appeared was going to be, was, you know, were the miners. That's why we're here. That's why everybody's here. And he apologized for the lack of communication, and he said that he took total credit for that. And then just people starting screaming "hypocrites" and...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: And then they started everywhere, and then next you know we see fist flying everywhere, cops, and people and everything, and was hitting each other.

COOPER: Inside the church?


ROBY: So somehow, someone needs to get the right information. You know, it's a total dishonor to, you know, whatever mining officials there are. However the word got out, it's definitely not true. There's 11 that apparently did not make it, or there's one survivor. That's it.

COOPER: Where did you hear that they had not made it? Who's lips did you hear it from?

ROBY: The guy, the one that owns the coal mine, the one that's been giving the press conferences the whole time.

COOPER: and do you remember precisely what he said?

ROBY: That he apologized. There has been errors. There's been miscommunication, and he took total responsibility for that, and then people started screaming hypocrites, and then he was trying to get everyone's attention to get past that, and said that there's -- and people were screaming, and they said there's only one known survivor, Randal Ware (sic), and I'm not sure if he said the other 11 are deceased, but that's the extent. That's the extent, and there's only survivor. So you know...

COOPER: Are you guys OK? Are you all right?

ROBY: Yes, it's the most awful -- it's unbelievable. It's just total -- it's disgraceful. It's awful, but it needs to be know. I mean, the story needs to change to not a very -- you know, it's taken a taken for the...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It went from happy to sad.

COOPER: It went from happy to sad.

Are you OK, Kee Kee? You seem upset?


COOPER: All right.

Let's just try to clarify what we are just hearing, if you could just stay with us. What we are hearing for the first time, and it is, frankly, stunning news, according to this woman, the mine officials have re-entered the mine. We told the governor was on site as well. We aren't hearing the shouting that we were hearing, but she has heard the mine official telling the people there that the survivor at the hospital is the only survivor. We're trying to get confirmation on this.

Frankly, we simply do not know what the situation is.

What we're seeing, though, is a long line of ambulances. There were a whole -- there's a whole bunch of ambulances down there, aren't there?

ROBY: Yes, sir.

COOPER: Those are, I assume, the ambulances that were at the mine...

ROBY: And what we appeared to -- we thought we were running and chasing what was going to be wonderful news, because there was the governor in the first SUV and several others, which all this time we've been told of a miracle, and that's why we're here, and there's no miracle, and it's awful. It's the most awful thing you could bring your children out to be a part of, to remember in history. It's just awful. It's awful.


KAGAN: And that was our coverage from about 2:00 this morning. It was CNN's Anderson Cooper breaking the news early this morning that only one survivor, Randal McCloy Jr., had been pulled from the Sago mine. Previous to that, the family members had been told that there was only one fatality and 12 survivors. McCloy, by the way, was taken to Morgantown, West Virginia. He is in the hospital there. He is listed in critical condition. So the family members standing by in Tallmansville, waiting for word from the CEO, Ben Hatfield,of the company that owns the mine.

This news conference originally as scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Eastern Eastern. Then we were told noon. And now we're 45 minutes past that. So whenever it does begin, you will see it live here on CNN.

Right now, though, we take another break.


KAGAN: Once again standing by for the news conference to begin in West Virginia. The roller coaster of emotions has left families of the miners stunned and angry today. One second they're rejoicing that prayers have been answered. Then they discover the good news is what they are calling miscommunication. A lot of family members want to know who is to blame for that.


ANNA CASTO, MINER'S COUSIN: Mr. Hatfield, the CEO of the mines. He'd say he didn't know anything. Finally he came up, and he said they were all living. He even give us the directions of how he was bringing them in. He was going to take the emergency car, go up and get them. He was going to bring them to the church, to the families, not only my family, but all families. And he was supposed to come back within an hour. He came back three hours later with news that they're gone, that there is no survivors. We want to know why and how people can get by with this.


KAGAN: So our Randi Kaye is still in West Virginia, and she was there by the church as this was all unfolding. She talked with us earlier about what that was like as it unfolded.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were just outside the church with the family members after they'd gotten the news from that still yet unidentified person that 12 of the miners had survived. And Daryn, it was such a scene of jubilation. There were cheers, the church bells were ringing. Just screams of joy.

We interviewed half a dozen of the family members and they were all telling us they couldn't believe the news. They were already talking about what they were going to say to their loved ones. They had even been told, apparently, and they were telling us, several of them did, that their -- the surviving miners were expected to arrive at the Sago Baptist Church, where we had been camped out with the families for a couple of days now.

And then just a few hours later, just that one ambulance, the one lone ambulance, Daryn, had come down from the face of the coal mine. And then it had been a very long time before there was any sign of any other activity. And you could see, Daryn, the mood started to change. In fact, I even said to my producer, something's not right.

Because you could see the EMS workers were coming down. They were hugging each other, they appeared emotional. I tried to speak with one of the firemen who had been up there and he seemed very angry and somewhat distraught, and basically, you know, just walked right by us.

But it was really quite a scene to see the change. And then when the news came and the governor and the mining company officials came to the church and announced it, that is when the chaos really broke out. There was such anger. I ran up to the church, in fact, and found the mother-in-law of Randal McCloy, the only surviving member of this incident. And even she was distraught.

It has just been such a terrible scene. So much hope for these people. And we saw it -- and just to have them planning the hugs and celebration with their loved ones and then to have this happen. And to see it play out was something -- Daryn.

KAGAN: What about the gap in time, the amount of time that it took for the information to be corrected?

KAYE: That is something that I think they're certainly -- already are plenty of questions about it today. But certainly, those questions will continue. I mean, they knew, apparently, that there had been miscommunication with these workers, these rescue crews, who 13,000 feet deep into the mine. And they let these families hang on this good information, this good news, which they thought was apparently good news, let them hang on it for about three hours.

And that, I think, is so much of where the anger comes from. The families yelling they're liars, they're liars, referring to the mining company officials, yelling at them, calling them hypocrites. Wanting to get the news out around the world when they were talking to us live on the air right after it happened.

There was just so much -- so much anger and so much hurt. I don't think that at that point -- it was about 3:30 in the morning at that point, Eastern time -- they really could fully grasp. A lot of their relatives, they had called and told them the good news, Daryn, and those people ended up going to bed, only to wake up this morning and find out that their relatives weren't alive.

KAGAN: Randi Kaye in western West Virginia.


KAGAN: And, once again, that was Randi. We were talking to her about an hour or so ago, what that was like to watch that unfold in the middle of the night in West Virginia. And so the relatives of friends wake up this morning wanting a lot of answers from the mining company.

We've been standing by for about two and half hours, three hours now, waiting for this news conference, originally set to begin at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Then we were told noon Eastern. We're getting close to 1:00 p.m. We will continue to stand by. When it happens, you'll see it live here on CNN. Right now, we take a break.



HATFIELD: It's a very emotional time. The employees' families are grief-stricken and, frankly, angry. And I'm not surprised or upset with them because they certainly have some -- some basis for their -- for their frustration, having been put through this emotional roller-coaster. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I regret that it's happened. I would do anything if it had not happened.

QUESTION: Sir, we can see the disappointment on your face. What was it like talking to those families?

HATFIELD: It's beyond belief. Welcome to the worst day of my life.


KAGAN: That day continues. Ben Hatfield, the CEO of the International Coal Group, set to have another news conference some time at some point in West Virginia. When it happens, you'll see it live here on CNN.

I'm Daryn Kagan. That's going to wrap up my three hours of coverage. But our coverage continues here on CNN. At the top of the hour, Kyra Phillips picks up with "LIVE FROM." I'll see you tomorrow.