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Efforts to Rescue Miners; President Bush Meets with French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Aired August 11, 2007 - 11:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: It is Saturday, August 11th. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Good morning to you all.

I'm T.J. Holmes.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Brianna Keilar in for Betty, who is on assignment.

Now, we continue to follow breaking news this hour.

Rescuers in Utah making progress in their effort to get those six trapped miners. We're going to take you there live for the latest in just a moment.

HOLMES: Also, another story happening right now. Police in several major U.S. cities are on guard after a new terrorist threat. We'll run down the details on this potential terror attack.

KEILAR: And our Betty Nguyen will join us live from Africa, where historic elections are happening right now in one war torn country. The CNN exclusive is coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It could be a picture worth a thousand words -- rescue workers, or rescue crews, rather, in Utah are getting ready to low area camera deep into the Crandall Canyon Mine. What they're hoping to do is see evidence that six trapped miners are still alive.

Let's go now to CNN's John Zarrella.

He's joining us from Emory County, Utah -- hi, John.


They -- the word that we're getting now, of course, from Bob Murray, the CEO, is that it may take a couple more hours before we actually have the camera lowered down inside that shaft.

What they have to do, of course, is to remove the drill bit and then lower the camera in. It's time consuming.

Murray told us during the course of the morning today that the progress to get into the main shaft itself -- the rescue teams that are digging out in that main shaft that collapsed on us a week ago now -- the work progressing slower than it had yesterday, but that they are moving as quickly as they possibly can.

He also, again, told us exactly what the timetable would be for getting that camera down inside that hole.


ROBERT MURRAY, CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: The hole was precisely where we thought it should be, within a fraction of an inch. It was drilled off of the side of a very steep mountain -- 1,886 feet deep.

We are now in the process of withdrawing the drill steel and inserting a casing so that we can then insert the camera into the mine. That will require another two-and-a-half hours.


ZARRELLA: Now, he also said during that interview that they were pumping oxygen down into the smaller hole, which they drilled into that -- into that cavity yesterday. Originally they had thought perhaps they missed the mark and that they were in another area.

But we asked him for some clarification on that. And he said, well, in fact, they are in, they believe, that same cavity where they think the miners are trapped and they are pumping that oxygen in precaution -- for precautionary reasons because they got some very low oxygen readings yesterday when they sampled the air.

Now, we haven't got any word from them yet, Brianna, on whether or not they have any better readings from that area now as to what the oxygen levels are and whether they are high enough to sustain human life -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, John Zarrella...




KEILAR: Sorry, John.

Go on.

ZARRELLA: No, I was just going to say that Ed Lavandera is over at the school where the families are gathering. And, Ed, bring you in for what you can add to all of this -- Ed?



This is the school behind me where the families have been gathering throughout the week, getting their updates and the such, from the mine officials and, also, several poli -- high ranking politicians here from the State of Utah. Senator Orrin Hatch had met with the families. And the governor of Utah also inside there right now. He just arrived a short while ago.

We saw Mr. Murray arrive after he had come down from the mountain and he's in there, as well. So there isn't a lot of movement outside the school. Sometimes the family members have been kind of just hanging outside the doors in the parking lot up there. But we -- everyone seems to be inside at this time.

You can imagine they must have a lot of questions as to exactly what is going on and also depending heavily on two family members of the trapped miners who have been going up and witnessing and watching firsthand what the rescue operations and what the rescue workers have been doing over the last several days.

And, of course, in these crucial moments, you can imagine they have a lot of questions and there's a lot of understanding, a lot of ability -- attempts to explain to them exactly what will be going on with the camera and what they -- and, really, what they can anticipate from that. And this is the difficult part in speaking with some of the family members of these trapped miners, that it's the anticipation and the roller coaster of good news/bad news, good news/bad news which seems to be coming out every couple of minutes for them, that that has been the biggest struggle in trying to figure out what is going on here.

So they are in there. We presume that they're asking a lot of those types of questions. And how long these meetings last have kind of just varied, depending on the amount of news and a lot of -- the amount of information that they need to pass along. So we suspect this meeting will go on for a while.

And then it has been kind of customary for folks to leave here, go back up the mountain. And, of course, here in the coming hours, there will be a very fluid situation. So exactly when we will get our next update is hard to say. Sometimes they race back up to the mountain to kind of get an update and watch firsthand the rescue operations.

And they will want to be very close to that drill hole. Once the camera starts dropping in, they will shut everything down, make it very quiet, so they can start listening. And, obviously, there is a great deal of anxiety and hope that there will be some sounds emerging from inside that mountain and give these families a reason to be much more hopeful than they are right now.

KEILAR: All right, Ed Lavandera live for us there in Huntington, Utah, at a school where family members are waiting for word.

Thanks for that report.

Also thanks to John Zarrella for his report from nearby the mine.

Let's get you now over to Josh Levs.

He's at the breaking news desk -- and, Josh, I understand you have some information about communications from some of the family members of these miners. JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.


What's been happening is that these families -- let's keep in mind, six men trapped down there, all from different families. We hear from their families from time to time.

Two of the families have given us a statement here and I want to share it with you because it's a reminder of what they're going through. And it's a message to the country.

This is from the families of Carlos Payan and Luis Hernandez.

They say, again: "To all people across America, we wish to thank you for your concern and your prayers. As the drilling of the larger hole nears completion, we are hopefully nearer to learning the fate of our loved ones. Please pray that we get the news that we hope for."

And then they end it with this. They said: "We ask all of you not to the to lose your faith and open, as we are trying to remain strong in our faith and hope."

You know, this is what it's about in the end. It's a massive search effort. It's a massive rescue effort to get -- to, first of all, find out the condition of these men down there. Also, to get them everything they could need.

The drill hole that's gone through there today could not only send down this camera, but it can also be used to send supplies, to pump oxygen at a faster rate, to send potentially food and water, depending on what they find down there.

And, you know, we can't say this enough. Let me just tell you who all six of these men are. It's Manual Sanchez, Kerry Allred, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips, Luis Hernandez and, also, Don Erickson.

There's more about them at

And we here at the breaking news desk, we've got a lot of resources on this. We're following absolutely everything that comes in -- any new picture, any incremental piece of information.

We know how much you want to learn this, so we're going to be right in with you all day following this story very closely.

T.J. Brianna -- back to you.

KEILAR: All right, thanks so much for that, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks.

KEILAR: And just to recap you on where we are with this story, the efforts to rescue six miners trapped in Utah. At this point, a larger hole has been drilled down into a cavity where they believe these six miners to be. HOLMES: And the process is going now, that they are pulling out the drill bit where they drilled down into that hole, where they believe the -- where they believe the miners are. Now they have to pull that out and go through the process of then lowering down this camera.

They can look around 360 degrees, a hundred feet, really, in all directions. But they don't know if that camera and that distance the camera can pick up, if that is going to be enough to give them the answers they need, if that's going to be able to spot those miners, to see the fate of those miners.

That is the process that's happening now. These developments have been coming to us all morning, so we are expecting in the next couple of hours, we could finally get word -- after a week of not knowing the fate of these miners, we might finally get some definitive answers about their fate.

If not, there's another process of digging that's going on in the shaft. You get kind of an idea there. They're digging through an area that looks like that, in an open shaft. But it's going so slow that it could take another four or five, six days, up to a week, really, to dig through and finally get to the area where they believe the miners are.

So a lot of developments this morning on this story. And certainly there will be big developments maybe this afternoon.

KEILAR: And we also want to let you know there is a press conference coming up during the next hour.

As soon as that press conference begins, you can tune into it right here on CNN.

HOLMES: And tonight at 8:00 Eastern, we're actually going to take a look back. CNN special investigations unit looking at West Virginia's Sago Mine tragedy.

What really what happened and could it have been prevented?

Inside the Sago Mine tragedy. That's tonight and tomorrow night, coming your way at 8:00 Eastern.

KEILAR: Meanwhile, the search for bodies continue today, a week- and-a-half after the Minneapolis bridge collapse. The latest remains recovered from the Mississippi River were those of a nursing student and her 22-month-old daughter. At least eight people died in that bridge collapse. Five more are still listed as missing.

HOLMES: Well, nothing out of the ordinary -- so says the mayor. But New York police are on the streets this morning with censors to detect radioactive material.

Senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is live for us in Manhattan.

And, again, nothing out of the ordinary, but certainly look at some of the activity we've seen this morning, it does not look ordinary.


This all in response to another unverified report of an Al Qaeda threat against the United States. Here you see the response from the New York City Police Department. That an officer holding one of those detectors of radioactive material.

As vehicles have been driving down Broadway here towards lower Manhattan -- which is only about 10 blocks away -- they've been checking to see if any of the vehicles actually do have anything that might actually be radioactive.

Now all of this in response to a report on an Israeli-based Web site called The site is privately owned. It's a counter- terrorism Web site. And it does report that on Thursday, internal Al Qaeda Web sites had threats against the U.S., one saying that a truck carrying radiological material would enter New York City and target the Wall Street area. Another saying that New York, Miami and Los Angeles would all be targets.

Now, absolutely none of this has been verified --not by the NYPD, the Department of Homeland Security and also the FBI. They've all checked it out and found nothing to it.

However, as a precaution, the NYPD is over here at this checkpoint. They've got several others, as well. They've also been pulling aside some vans, visually inspecting them. And to vehicles that drive by, cars, they've also been handing out these cards that say, 1-888-NYC-SAFE. That is the New York City Police Department terrorism hot line number.

So certainly on guard over here. But, again, let's emphasize this is simply a precaution -- back to you.

HOLMES: All right, Allan Chernoff with the update for us in Manhattan.

Thanks so much, Allan.

And, remember, folks, we here at CNN are committed to providing you the most reliable coverage of news that affects your security. So you can stay tuned to CNN for the latest day and night.

Also, some miners have a great concern about working in the Utah mine where six fellow miners are trapped this morning. We'll have the latest on what they've been saying.

KEILAR: And the president is in Maine this morning. We'll get a live update on an important visitor who is coming to lunch.


HOLMES: We want to now bring in an expert on mine safety.

Davitt McAteer is former assistant secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor.

He joins us now from Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Sir, thank you for being with us again this morning.

Tell me, from what that you have heard from some of these developments, do they sound encouraging to you, that hole now that we know that camera is going to go down in, is that really the best hope that we've had to figure out what in the world has happened to these men?

DAVITT MCATEER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF MSHA: T.J. since the event itself, this is the closest we've gotten to really making a breakthrough with regard to discovering where the men are, what the conditions of the mine are and how they fared during this period of time. Remember, it's been an awfully long time since the accident has happened. So we, you know, the hope is dim.

But there is still hope as long as we don't know.

The risk is that we've put a lot of effort in this hole and we could still miss with this hole. But it's a directional finding driven hole, so it has a better chance of finding it. The camera that they'll put down will have a 360 degree capacity and it will have lighting capacity. So it will have a chance to look around. And if we have successfully located them and they haven't moved or some other condition hasn't occurred, we do have a fairly good chance of finding them at the present time.

HOLMES: Well, sir, what other options are there if that camera gets down there you know it has 100 feet, I believe, it can see, 360 degrees -- if they can't see anything with that camera, is the only option left is just to dig through that shaft as they're doing?

And, again, that could take another four, five, six -- who knows how many days to get to the area where they think they are.

Is this -- is that the only option left?

MCATEER: We don't have many options. There could be an effort to drill a second hole, but that would just be guessing.

What they've done is they've used their last coordinates that they had on the miners before the accident happened at 2:30 in the morning Sunday night. And it suggested that the miners know that if they can't get out to stay where they're located, because they know that that's where we would come to try to see them.

That's -- there's a logic to it, a logic with the miners, but also with the crews. So there's some compatibility, some thinking would be pretty much the same.

But the only other choice would be a second hole to try another place.

But you're really running out of options, unfortunately. HOLMES: And, again, right now it's just a best guess and that's all they can do.

What do you imagine, from all the reporting and what we know, are the conditions in that area where that second hole has now been drilled?

What possibly are the conditions like in there and the air quality in there like?

MCATEER: Well, it's been a long time. The -- if we're lucky and we've gotten a pocket of air -- they had some devices and that would have kept them for a period of time. But we would have had to have some trapped fresh air to make it happen. That fresh air would be diminished by use of these miners over a period of time.

It should be, if the cavern is large enough, if the cavity is large enough, it should be sufficient to preserve their lives. It would be -- there would be some carbon dioxide, probably, from the exhalation.

The risk is that, as was found with the first hole, that the air has become toxic by virtue of the explosion bleeding into it. We hope, certainly, that that hasn't happened. And that's really our hope. And it's the hope of everyone there that that hasn't happened.

The choices in this event were really not very many because of the size of the seismic event and because of the conditions of the mine prior to the time of mining, the fact that you had so much mined out area and that the collapse was significant both in size and also in duration.

So that really cut down the number of choices that were available to us.

HOLMES: And, sir, is this just part of the job of mining?

They can try to make it as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, there's only so much you can do and there's only so safe you can be and that accidents like this just happen because it is a dangerous job?

MCATEER: That is not my opinion. The mining can and -- is carried on safely in a whole number of mine operations, both in this country and around the world. To do that, you have to put preventive measures in.

I don't want to speak to causation here or to any blame pointing. What I want to suggest is that we need to do a very thorough investigation, because if we're going to continue to mine in this country and around the world, we need to, one, know how this occurred; two, know how to prevent it. And the third thing -- and I think this is fair to say -- is that we need to be able to get to miners quicker.

After the Sago accident last year, we tried to equipment the miners with safety equipment, breathing devices, water, etc. And now what we need to do -- what this disaster is pointing to is that we need to have a better ability to get underground quicker.

The fact is that we should not be, on the Saturday following a Sunday, a week -- basically a week later -- we should not be just getting in at this point. We ought to have a better way to get there. And there are ways to do it and we just haven't applied those resources in this country because we haven't had the need so much. And the need is still there and we need to be doing that.

HOLMES: This will certainly bring up that need and bring some more attention to that.

Davitt McAteer, sir, we thank you so much for lending your expertise for this -- for this story and to help give us some perspective here.

Thank you so much for your time, sir.

MCATEER: You're welcome.

KEILAR: He's in the neighborhood, so why not do lunch?

The new French leader is stopping by the Bush family home on the Maine coast this hour. It's a get to know you meeting with the American president.

And Elaine Quijano is also in Kennebunkport this morning.

Hi there -- Elaine.


That's right. President Bush is in town here for a family friend's wedding. But while he's here, as you noted, the president will be sitting down and playing host to France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Now, this is being described by the White House as a casual lunch, fitting in with the casual atmosphere here. The president, in fact, earlier today not only went out for a bike ride but went out for some time on the water with a boat ride.

Now, the White House says, as far as this lunch goes, it's likely there, of course, could be some topics that could be discussed like Lebanon, Sudan and climate change.

But it is really just sort of a very brief 90 minute sit down with members of the extended Bush family, as well, over hamburgers and hot dogs, traditional American fare.

But we should tell you, Brianna, a little development this morning. Mrs. Sarkozy apparently will not be able to make it. She phoned Mrs. Bush today to say that she and her children are not feeling well.

But the lunch itself is still on with the two presidents and the extended Bush family. We'll let you know what we hear after it's done -- Brianna.

KEILAR: That's too bad.

But, you know, tell us, Elaine -- because the president had his Saturday radio address today. He made some news.

What news did he make?

QUIJANO: Yes, the president essentially pointing to what he says are signs of progress, that this surge in Iraq is working. The president saying that the enemy in Iraq is still dangerous. The surge is still in its early stages.

But he also said he believes that troops are, in fact, getting the job done in changing conditions on the ground.

Now, at the same time, the president tried to address criticism that there has been insufficient political progress in Iraq.


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Political progress has been slower than we had hoped. The Iraqi parliament passed more than 50 pieces of legislation in its most recent session. They approved a $41 billion budget, created an electoral commission and military courts, and laid the groundwork for private sector investment in production of gasoline and diesel fuel.

At the same time, Iraqi forces have taken responsibility for security in a number of areas. They are taking losses at a much higher rate than we are and they're making these sacrifices willingly because they are determined to see their children live in freedom.


QUIJANO: Now, meantime, the president's embattled attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, is making an unannounced visit to Iraq. According to the Justice Department, he arrived there today.

He's essentially thanking Justice Department officials who have helped to rebuild Iraq's law enforcement and legal infrastructure there. We're told among those he's meeting with on this trip, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Elaine Quijano with the president in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Thanks, Elaine.

HOLMES: Well, historic elections taking place in Sierra Leone today -- a country torn by civil war.

And our Betty Nguyen is there to witness history -- hello, Betty.


I'm live here in Freetown, where people have come out by the numbers, in the hundreds of thousands, in fact, to vote today.

I'll give you the latest on this historic election coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: A landmark day -- Sierra Leone choosing a president and parliament today.

The West African nation trying to complete a transition to democracy after so much suffering.

Our Betty Nguyen has vacated the seat next to me this weekend and she's actually there to witness history.

She's live now from the capital, Freetown -- hello there, Betty.

NGUYEN: Hey there, T.J.

It has been raining off and on all day long. But that's not why you don't see long lines behind me. In fact, people came out very early this morning, some three hours before the polls even opened, to make sure that their vote counted, especially those who were maimed in this country's bloody civil war.


NGUYEN (voice-over): Natadawale (ph) is preparing for a short trip down the road, but he says it's one of the most important journeys he's ever taken. And getting there is no easy task. He lost his leg during Sierra Leone's civil war. He says rebels stormed into the diamond mine where he was working and fired a rocket propelled grenade.

NATADAWALE: It took them off by fragments of the -- the artery.

NGUYEN: Natadawale didn't think he'd survive, let alone see the day when he would vote in his country's second presidential election since emerging from war. He wants to see the winner bring about change.

NATADAWALE: What this country needs, one, good medical facilities; good road infrastructure; good education.

NGUYEN: So with the help of his wife, Natadawale is doing his part to make that happen, and he is certainly not alone. People started filing in overnight, so many that when the gates opened, it was a mad dash.

(on camera): The lines are long, but it often doesn't compare to the confusion. Many don't know which of these polling stations to go to. And after standing in line for hours, sometimes in the rain, you can understand the frustration.

(voice-over): Some 2.6 million people have registered to vote. That's 90 percent of the eligible population, according to Victor Angelo with the United Nations.

VICTOR ANGELO: The Sierra Leoneans want their voice to be heard, want to make sure their choice of the future is very clear.

NGUYEN: That's because there's a lot of work to be done. Sierra Leone remains the second poorest country in the world, with unemployment at a staggering 70 percent. And most people are still without electricity and clean water. In fact, Natadawale was being treated for cholera when he checked himself out of the hospital just so he could vote. And because he is an amputee, he avoids waiting hours in line. But still, it was not easy.

Now having made the journey, Natadawale knows exactly who he wants to win. His vote is quickly cast and his finger placed in ink, so the stains of democracy are there for all to see. And as he slowly heads home, the excitement hasn't diminished.

NATADAWALE: Oh, I'm happy.

NGUYEN: The question now is whether that enthusiasm will fade once the votes are counted.


NGUYEN: And, T.J. there is a lot to be decided. There are seven presidential candidates, 566 people vying for 112 seats in parliament. So this political process is moving forward. And the fact that there aren't long lines behind me really speaks to the nature of how this country is standing on its own two feet. The U.N. Is only here to observe.

These elections are being held by Sierra Leone solely and they are truly moving toward democracy and the roots are taking plant right here in Sierra Leone -- T.J.

HOLMES: And, Betty, also today, you said people were upbeat and there was a festive mood. And, also, across the country, no problems, no issues of violence. Things went well.

NGUYEN: It is so important that you said that because, yes, on the onset, a lot of people were wondering if this would lead to violence. There was some confusion at many of the polling places all across the country. But that was just the simple disorganization. There was no violence on the streets, whether it be here in Freetown or throughout Sierra Leone.

This country has been able to move forward with these elections. We're only about an hour-and-a-half left into the polling stations because they are going to closing at 5:00 local time.

So, pretty much people in this particular area have come and gone. They've cast their ballot and there's been no violence -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, that is wonderful to hear. Sierra Leone moving forward with democracy.

Betty Nguyen for us there to witness history.

Betty, so good to see you.

KEILAR: Just how safe is the mine where six men are trapped in Utah?

Find out what members of the mining community have been saying.

HOLMES: Also, planning a trip to the beach?

You may want to rethink that after our report on what's been found in some of the water.

Stick around.


HOLMES: We'll update you now on our top stories.

And, of course, the major story of the morning has been the rescue workers in Utah hoping to begin lowering a camera deep into the Crandall Canyon Mine in about an hour or two. They're looking for the six men who were working inside that mine when it caved in on Monday. We're expecting a press conference, hoping to get new information. That could come to us at any time now.

You're taking a live picture at the area, the podium set up where we have been watching press conferences all week. Expecting another one real soon. And when that happens, we will bring that to you.

Also, New York police using radiation detectors to screen vehicles today in response to Internet chatter about a possible terror plot against U.S. cities. Authorities say the report is of very low credibility and the radiation checks are strictly a precaution.

KEILAR: And as we've been reporting, rescuers in Utah have drilled a larger hole into the mine. And they're hoping that they can lower a camera into that hole and then pick up some images of the trapped miners.

Now, here to help us understand exactly what's happening in all of this story -- because there are some new developments...

HOLMES: There are.

KEILAR: Josh Levs.

And first off, update us on some new information regarding the families.

LEVS: That's right.

What we're trying to do here is follow absolutely everything we can involving this story. We know how important it is to so many people all over the country. One thing that we have just spotted is from the "Salt Lake Tribune," right now reporting on its Web site that according to a spokesman -- or a spokeswoman, rather -- for Senator Orrin Hatch, family members of two of these miners who are trapped in Utah who live in Mexico -- these family members, they may be basically expedited. They may be, via the State Department, able to come to the United States very quickly in order to join other relatives.

Now, that's significant because it's a reminder of the extent to which the nation really cares about this. The government at all levels has been talking about this.

So, Brianna, that's new information. We're on that right now. And we'll be looking into how soon the family can be here.

KEILAR: And then this hole that's being drilled or that has been drilled and they're trying to put a camera down it, it's -- you have a visual to kind of show us.

LEVS: Yes.

KEILAR: And I know it's not the only hole that's been drilled. So you can kind of take us through what you have.

LEVS: Right.

KEILAR: But it certainly is the best hope at this point.

LEVS: It is. Yes, you know, once in a while the simplest props are the best way to explain something.

So let me show you all of this. Here you go. This is the size of the hole that we were reporting on during the week. You may have heard a microphone was lowered into the mine this week. It was this size. It's about two inches in diameter.

Now, they were able to get a microphone down there. You may wonder why not put a tiny little camera down there.

Well, the kind of camera that would be able to see in the dark with enough of a range to look for these miners is substantially bigger. This, folks, is the size of the hole that has now been drilled into this mine. They're using this to put that camera in today in hopes of reaching where the miners are, seeing where they are. And, also, that hole can be used to send in all sorts of things. It can be used to send in food and water, if necessary. It can also be used to send in oxygen at a faster rate. Already, they're pushing in oxygen.

So that right there explains to you the difference and why it was only now that they were able to get that camera in -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And there's another story that you've been working on that's really interesting. Obviously, we know that coal mining, mining is a dangerous job.

But you've been looking into how it falls into the most dangerous jobs that people work in the U.S.

LEVS: Yes. You know, what's interesting, this week, obviously, you know, we talked about this. We were both thinking about this. A lot of people were.

I started wondering what are the most deadly jobs in America. And then on Thursday, the federal government came out with a brand new report which shows which ones they are.

And what you'll see in this report is that there are some surprises.


LEVS (voice-over): Incidents of recent days are reminders that coal mining can be life risking work. Last year, 47 coal miners died in several incidents, 12 of them in the Sago Mine disaster. The industry's death toll more than doubled from the year before.

New federal statistics show coal mining has one of the highest death rates of any profession in the U.S. -- but not the highest. That grizzly distinction goes to fishermen. We sometimes see them being rescued after ships capsize or sink. Out of every 100,000 people in the industry, 142 died last year.

Then come pilots. Due to a series of incidents in 2006, including the crash of a Comair jet in August.

Next on the list of highest occupational fatalities -- loggers, iron and steelworkers, and coal miners.

After that comes refuse collectors, farmers and ranchers, power line workers, people who work on roofs, and those who do a great deal of drive for a living.

Overall, preliminary figures show 5,703 occupational deaths last year. That's down just barely from the year before. If the preliminary figures hold, 2006 would mark the lowest rate since the tabulations started in 1992.

Still, the Labor Department said this week there is a long way to go. Don't be surprised if this issue gains traction in the presidential race. It often does.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The safety of your workplace, your ability to earn overtime, your ability to organize, it's all on the ballot November 2nd.


LEVS: And it could be again this year.

Now, there's one thing I want you to know, to understand this. You saw there that we put coal mining at about number five among the most dangerous. Sometime you might see a list of top 10 most deadly jobs without mining on there. There's a reason for that. When you look at miners as a group, not just coal miners, but other types of miners, lots of other types of mining are much more safe. So the overall death rate for miners does not put miners in the top 10.

But when you look just at coal miners, that's when you see them way up there, because, as, you know, Brianna, and as we've been talking about all week, coal mining, specifically, is a very dangerous job.

KEILAR: Yes. And a really interesting report.

Thanks for that, Josh.

LEVS: Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, in the days before the Utah mine collapsed, concerns about safety.

Here now, CNN's Ted Rowlands for this part of the story.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trapped minor Manuel Sanchez said he was concerned about safety inside one section of the Crandall Canyon Mine in the weeks leading up to the collapse. That's what a family member has told a local newspaper.

And now a source with intimate knowledge of the conditions of the mine tells CNN Sanchez wasn't alone, that other miners were apprehensive about working in the area of the collapse.

The source, who won't go on camera, says the six trapped miners were working in an area called Seven Belt, the deepest part of the mine. And he tells CNN that for weeks before the collapse, the floors in that part of the mine were heaving or buckling up from intense pressure.

He says supervisors knew of the problem.

And a source says several miners, including Manuel Sanchez, were getting very concerned.

(on camera): Do you know why this miner would have been nervous going into that particular section?

BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT/CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: No, I have no idea. I've never heard that. I have no idea. It's probably a rumor and I'm not going respond to rumors. I can tell you that if any of my management or any worker here had ever said that to me, I would say, yes, I was told that. No, I don't know a thing about that, sir. And that's -- that's the truth.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): If the miners are were so afraid, why didn't they complain?

Several miners we've talked to in this area say complaining means you lose your job.

MURRAY: If you're getting that from the community, it's coming from other mines, because I don't operate that way.

PAUL RIDDLE, FORMER MINER: Always profits before safety. That's my opinion, my feeling and my experience.

ROWLANDS: Paul Riddle used to work in one of Bob Murray's mines. Riddle says miners who work for Murray are sometimes forced to push the envelope when it comes to safety and are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their high paying jobs.

RIDDLE: I'm not the only one. There are many, many, many people that feel this way and are afraid to speak up.

ROWLANDS: The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration plans to conduct an investigation into exactly what happened and the conditions at the mine leading up to the collapse.

The mine's owner is confident that his company will not be blamed.

MURRAY: There will be nothing in the investigation that will show that Murray Energy or Utah American or the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration did a thing wrong. It was a natural disaster.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Huntington, Utah.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM from the health perspective, when is a day at a beach not a day at the beach?

Some new pollution statistics live, coming up from North Beach, Maryland.


GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Beauty, climate and culture -- there are plenty of reasons to call the city by the bay home -- unless you are committed to buying green.

CHRIS BARTLE, PRESIDENT, GREEN KEY REAL ESTATE: There's really not a lot of green real estate here in the city. So instead of waiting for that to be built or created, I decided I could create a company that could facilitate or expedite the creation of that real estate.

WILLIS: In business since 2005, Green Key Real Estate connects green buyers with environmentally friendly homes. It also provides resources to clients who wish to green their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very excited about this greenhouse up here, too.

BART SHEPHERD, GREEN KEY CLIENT: We had similar concerns about lessening our impact on the world and leaving less of a mark behind, preserving things for future generations.

What are we going put in the backyard, Shasha (ph)?

Are we going to put a slide?


WILLIS: The Shepherds believe greening their home will pay off both health wise and financially.

SHEPHERD: It's taken the house to a -- to a whole another level.

WILLIS: That's this week's Greenhouse.



HOLMES: Today, we're turning to some breaking weather news now.

And I guess folks, Reynolds, looking at that screen behind you, they can kind of make out what's happening back there.


We're still looking at Hurricane Flossie in the Pacific at this time. Still about four days away from passing to south of the Big Island of Hawaii.

There's a lot that can happen between now and then. However, this storm is shows signs it's strengthening right now.

As we hear from the Associated Press, a category four storm. We're going to watch that for you very carefully and we're going to show you that path coming up very soon later this morning.

The other huge story we really need to tell you about right away is the heat. Extreme heat that we have over a good part of the country. It's stretching from parts of the Southeast back in along the Gulf Coast and into parts of the Mississippi Valley, where temperatures could get not just into the upper 90s, we're talking about triple digit heat. Combined with the high humidity, it's going to fell like it's well into the 100s. That should last through a good part of this weekend, and we'll keep an eye on that for you, as well.

That's the latest -- back to you at the news desk.

HOLMES: All right, Reynolds, we appreciate the update.

WOLF: You bet.

HOLMES: Thanks a lot.

KEILAR: And now let's get to a story we've been covering all morning. The rescue workers in Utah are trying to locate those six miners. They have punctured a coal seam and they're hoping to lower a camera down some time in the near future.

Let's get to Ed Lavandera.

He is standing by at a school near the mine in Huntington, Utah -- and, Ed, I understand you have some news, because the families are actually at the school where you are.

LAVANDERA: Right. The families have been here for quite some time this morning and have spent the last 30, 45 minutes or so meeting with Bob Murray, the owner of the mine, and various mine officials.

And now that meeting, you can see, kind of pushing into where the school is there, in the background. And family members have started trickling out of that meeting. So we anticipate it's over.

We've also seen Mr. Murray coming out, and the -- and Mr. Stickler, as well, who have been some of the gentlemen doing the briefings, updating people as to what is going on with the rescue operations with the mine.

I haven't seen them quite drive by just yet, but they continue -- the families here are hanging out outside now. They've spent a considerable amount of time inside with them, presumably asking a lot of questions as to the status of this rescue operation, of course.

They're very anxious to hear the news of what this video camera and how the progression and the progress that is being made on getting that video camera and audio equipment and supplies into that eight inch hole that has punctured through the cavity where they suspect the miners are.

But, of course, all of that is still a very fluid situation. That work is being done as we speak and as this meeting was going on.

So exactly what Mr. Murray and other mine officials have passed along to these families is hard to gather at this point.

But before he came down here, Mr. Murray had told us that there was a development that he wanted to pass along to the family, but he was going to give it to them first and then pass it on to the public to let people know what was going on.

So from this vantage point, unable to tell you exactly what that update is right now. So we're -- we'll be waiting to see if there is any kind of update, as Mr. Murray and the other mine officials return back up to the mountain top, which I presume they will do. That's the process they have been doing over the last few days, as they've been talking to the family members here and then quickly returning to the mountaintop to watch the rescue operations continue -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Ed Lavandera live for us there in Huntington, Utah, where families are waiting for word. A little farther up a nearby mountain, rescue workers right now are hoping to begin lowering a camera deep into the Crandall Canyon Mine. That in about an hour or two.

And what you're looking at now is a live picture.

We're awaiting a scheduled press conference at noon. And as soon as that gets underway, we will bring you the very latest from mine officials.

HOLMES: Also coming up, well, you might want to change your mind about your beach vacation when you hear about what's turning up on some U.S. beaches. Yes, we have a report on dirty beaches.

Stay here.

A quick break.

We'll be right back.


KEILAR: Going from dangerous jobs to dangerous beaches. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a new warning about pollution.

Let's go now to Gary Nurenberg.

He joins us from North Beach, Maryland, where it is not a coincidence, I think. He is not in the water -- huh, Gary?

NURENBERG: Good morning, Brianna.

The reason we're here is a new report from the National Resources Defense Council called Testing The Waters: A Guide Go America's Vacation Beaches.

The Council surveyed data on more than 3,500 American beaches at the ocean, at the bay and at the Great Lakes, and came up with what many would consider some disturbing information about pollution.

In 2006, the last year for which the numbers are available, beach closings and swimming advisories were up 28 percent, to the equivalent of 25,643 days.

Ninety-two beaches in 19 states violated health standards on more than 25 percent of tests.


NURENBERG (voice-over): Bacterial contamination.

NANCY STONER, NRDC CLEAN WATER PROJECT: It means that there's human or animal waste in the waters and swimmers are more likely to get sick. NURENBERG: Heavy rains play a role sweeping animal wastes into the water and putting a strain on sewage treatment plants, many of which were designed and put online decades ago.

BENJAMIN GRUMBLES, EPA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR: One of our priorities nationally is to change the way America views and values infrastructure; fix those leaky pipes; manage that storm water; because it can have a bad and a harmful impact on coastal waters and beaches.

NURENBERG: And beach users can play a role, too.

STONER: If they pick up their own trash at the beach, pick up pet wastes at the beach, that eliminates a source of contamination into the waters.


NURENBERG: The Environmental Protection Agency is urging some perspective here, saying that 95 percent of the time, America's beaches are open and safe.

North Beach in Maryland is one example of what's being done to clean up. It was closed for about 30 days last year because of contamination. But the government here has taken active steps to do something about it -- discouraging, for example, the feeding of sea gulls and ducks; spending more than $2 million to upgrade water treatment and sewage facilities.

An example of what can be done to clean up beaches -- and, Brianna, it's actually a pretty good day to go jump in the water. As soon as I say good-bye, I think I may just do that.

KEILAR: Oh, wow!

That's awesome, Gary.

I was wondering. I thought maybe he's not in the water because he's afraid that it won't look like he's really working. But we hope you get out there and have some fun.

All right...

NURENBERG: You've got a deal.

KEILAR: Gary, thanks a lot.

HOLMES: All right.

And, folks, we are, of course, staying on top of the rescue efforts out in Utah for those six miners. A lot of developments that we've seen. It's been a full morning right here. And please, rest assured, you will not miss a moment of that story.

We are waiting. A press conference is expected to begin at any moment, or scheduled to begin at any moment, with an update on exactly the efforts to going on to now drop a camera down into a second hole and possibly look at the cavity and possibly have real answers into the fate of those six miners.

Stay right here.

A quick break.

We'll be right back.


WILLIS (voice-over): With lightning season upon us, avoid shocks to your wallet by protecting your home now.

Many homes are already equipped with lightning rods on their roofs, but these won't protect your TV or stereo if lightning strikes the ground or a power line near your house. The power surge generated can destroy electronics within seconds.

So be prepared. Plug all home electronics into surge protectors and unplug high end equipment like computers and stereo systems. And if you live in an area with frequent strikes, experts suggest whole home surge arresters. These can cost upwards of $200 and need to be installed by a professional, but it could save you big bucks if your home is struck by lightning.

(on camera): I'm Gerri Willis and that's your Tip of the Day.

For more ideas, strategies and tips to save you money and protect your house, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.


KEILAR: The CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Fredricka Whitfield -- hi, Fred.


You all have a great day.

KEILAR: You, too, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, we have breaking news at this hour.

A possible breakthrough in mine rescue efforts in Utah. We're expecting a news conference and we'll bring you that live as soon as it happens.

Also, shuttle astronauts getting ready to take a walk in space. We'll show you it live.