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CNN Larry King Live

A Tragic Day for the Families of 12 Miners Killed in a Collapse in West Virginia; Ariel Sharon Suffers Stroke

Aired January 04, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, 12 miners dead, only one survivor, outraged families given false hope only to learn the awful truth hours later. What went wrong?
Plus, from the hospital, the mother and other family of the sole surviving miner; and, exclusive the doctor treating him, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Ah, what a night. Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, lies gravely ill in a hospital in Israel with an aneurysm in the brain, any updates we will pass along. I know the prime minister pretty well, visited in his home and we all wish him the very best.

As we do young Randy McCloy, who is in a hospital in West Virginia. Tambra Flint joins us from West Virginia University Hospital. She's the mother of Randy McCloy, the sole survivor in the Sago Mine disaster, a lot of the relatives along with her and Tim Flint, Randy's stepfather is also aboard.

And also present is Dr. Larry Roberts, the West Virginia University Hospital's -- a member of that hospital staff. He's been treating Randy since he was brought to the hospital very early this morning. What exactly, Dr. Roberts, is Randy's condition?

DR. LARRY ROBERTS, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Randy is in critical shape. He suffered obviously a prolonged period of time in the mine, suffered inadequate oxygen supply to the tissues, we call that anoxic, injuries to the brain. We're now recognizing that it involves his heart, his liver, the kidneys and so multiple organs are involved and so he's in critical shape.

KING: What's a plus side?

ROBERTS: Well, the plus side is that he's made it through and got out of the mine despite toxic gases, despite the prolonged period of time that he was in the mine of it sounds like over 40 hours frankly against all odds made it out, got immediate medical care at another facility and then was transferred here.

KING: What, Dr. Roberts, assuming recovery will be the long range biggest problem?

ROBERTS: I think what we're most worried about is his brain recovery. Anybody who suffers what we call an anoxic brain injury, inadequate oxygen to the brain can develop long term disability from that. But, having said that, there are -- there is an opportunity obviously for recovery and even this evening there has been some glimmer of improvement in his neurologic exam, so we can only hope for the best at this point.

KING: Tambra, where were you when you heard of the mine disaster?


KING: What do you do?

TAMBRA FLINT: I am a bar and restaurant manager.

KING: Did you fear the worst?

TAMBRA FLINT: Yes, you can't help but fear the worst.

KING: Tim, how did you learn that Randy was the one that got out without -- without dying, the one that got out successfully at least?

TIM FLINT, STEPFATHER OF SOLE SURVIVOR RANDAL MCCLOY: For three hours we had assumed that 12 had made it out and then three hours later the company and the state police came in and said that there's been a mistake. At that point, everybody's ears perked up and then they said that there only one survivor, Randy McCloy.

At that point, I grabbed his mother, his wife and they said that they had taken him to St. Joseph's Hospital, so at that point I grabbed the two of them, headed for the car trying to get the two of them there as quick as possible.

KING: Tambra, this had to be extraordinarily mixed emotions right? I mean your son is alive but his fellow workers are dead. What do you go through?

TAMBRA FLINT: You just can't imagine, you know. We were all packed in there like sardines, and I'm right in the middle and to hear that I was just so shocked and it's just, you know, just couldn't -- couldn't believe it.

KING: What kind of young man is he, Tim?

TIM FLINT: He's a very good man, works hard, loves his family, just the pride of his mother. She loves him (INAUDIBLE).

KING: How long you been his stepfather?

TIM FLINT: We've been married since '98.

KING: So, seven years?


KING: Do you work in the mines too, Tim?

TIM FLINT: No, no. I sell to the mines so I know a little bit about the mines. I've been underground twice but never worked underground. KING: Do you ever wonder why they do what they do?

TIM FLINT: The main reason money, it pays pretty good but I think it's the mentality of the firefighter, the policeman, the soldier. It's something that every day they leave the house, you know, there's that chance every time but it's something that they do.

KING: Tambra, when you've been to the hospital are you able to spend any time at his bedside?

TAMBRA FLINT: Yes, yes, yes I have.

KING: What -- is he unconscious?

TAMBRA FLINT: I don't believe him to be unconscious. I just -- I just don't see, you know, my Randy there yet.

KING: What do you see, Tim, when you go?

TIM FLINT: I've held back, you know. There's limited time so, you know, his wife, his mother and brothers and sisters and, you know, they need that time.

KING: How big is the family Tambra? How big in all with wives and sisters and everybody?

TAMBRA FLINT: I have five children, so he has four -- three brothers and a sister and so our family is pretty large as it is and then his family is even larger or her family is even larger.

TIM FLINT: Tammy has seven grandchildren and Anna's mother has 14 grandchildren.

KING: And does Tim have children -- does Randy have children?

TIM FLINT: Yes, he has a 4-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter.

KING: Dr. Roberts...

TAMBRA FLINT: Randy and Isabelle (ph).

KING: Dr. Roberts, do you think that this would be a guess that Randy hears them when they're at his bedside?

ROBERTS: We always encourage family members to spend a lot of time at the bedside and try to communicate. There are plenty of anecdotal stories of patients who appear to be in deep coma who remember interactions like this and I think it strengthens patients. I think it's good for the whole family to be doing -- to be doing that.

KING: We'll be right back with some more and get the thoughts on that miscommunication. The first thing I saw this morning, I flew in late last night, was USA Today, the headline which said "12 Miners Alive." What went wrong? We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, 12 survivors and my dad was supposedly one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They even told us 30 minutes ago that the miners agreed to come up here to the church instead of going to the hospital first. Now how could they agree if they didn't know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not kin to none of 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.



KING: Still with us is Tambra Flint and Tim Flint, the mother and stepfather respectively of young Randy McCloy who is in the hospital, as is of course his attending physician, Dr. Larry Roberts.

And, joining us now from Charleston is Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia. The Sago Mine is in her district. She was on the site last night. What went wrong? Who made the announcement? Have we tracked that down?

REP. SHELLEY CAPITO (R), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, I was in the church, as I had been pretty much over the last two days just trying to help as much as I could in terms of giving aid and comfort to so many of the families.

And, I was there and I wasn't actually in the sanctuary at the time and folks, I heard sort of an uproar in there and folks came rushing out, you know, we were in the food area and they're like "They're alive. They're alive." And, I was just overcome like everybody else with just joy.

And, as we -- we looked around. We kept looking at each other like with disbelief thinking is this really -- is this really true? And, at that point, the governor was in the sanctuary and then he quickly left right after that. I did not hear him say anything but, you know, we had nothing to dispel that this was not true. I was operating under the same information as everybody in that church.

And, as the evening wore on, we had a situation really where we had a family in that church. We knew that there was one miner that was deceased and they had not been notified officially and our concerns, and my concerns, became with that family because there was so much joy everywhere else.

And so, I tried -- I left then to try to get information for that family with the company and, as I left probably an hour after I'd been there, I got into the information sort of blackout that everybody else did. And it wasn't until I went back to the church when I knew the governor -- when I saw the governor go back in did I get the horrific news as well.

KING: So, the answer is we don't know how this started?

CAPITO: I don't know. I've heard reports today all day. I saw the mine president talk about an explanation and, you know, from where I was it sounds like a plausible explanation. It's just -- it was like a kick in the stomach and I just -- my heart goes out to every single person.

KING: You mean somebody heard it wrong and passed it along wrong? Is there going to be any investigation of this?

CAPITO: Most certainly there will be. I mean I think from the federal perspective we're going to investigate what happened with the explosion, why, and we're going to -- we're going to look at, you know, the violations and the inspections that have gone on and we're also going to look at the communications. I mean this was just an enormous tragedy on top of a tragedy.

KING: Tambra, what do you make of the miscommunication even though it did not affect you specifically?

TAMBRA FLINT: Well, I feel like it did. You know, I've been there and I'm happy with the rest of them for them as well as myself and, you know, then find out that Randy was the only one, you know that was hard.

KING: Tim, what's your reaction to the way this whole thing's been handled?

TIM FLINT: I've got two major problems. The first one, you know, that first family should have been, you know, they should have done something to get that information and then go to that family, pull them aside, you know, and treat it with the dignity they deserved.

You know they were stuck. They had an idea. They knew who it was and they were stuck in the church with us, you know, singing and the bells ringing. For three hours they had to put up with that.

And then at some point they had to know there was a problem. You know, somebody should have taken responsibility, stepped up and said, you know, "Folks, there is a problem. You know, I don't have a answer at the moment but there is a problem, you know. We're not sure, you know, how many men have made it."

Somebody at that point should have, you know, stepped up to bat. I don't know if -- I don't know who's the point person in this situation. I don't know if it's MSHA. I don't know if it's the state, the federal, whole company but that needs to be clear.

Somebody needs to know who's definitely in charge and somebody should be in charge of the command center and they should have a direct line to somebody at the area where we were of the church.

KING: And what's your other problem?

TIM FLINT: And they need a direct line. Those two.

KING: Oh, those.

TIM FLINT: The fact that that first family wasn't notified and then when there was a problem somewhere into it, I don't have the time frame, but there was a problem and somebody should have stepped up and, you know, and admit, you know, everybody makes a mistake but, you know, let's step up to bat, you know, and work it out. You do what you can. But, you know, that poor family for three hours and then the other -- the other eleven, you know, and we're not off the hook yet, you know. We need -- we need prayers.

KING: Your damn right.

TIM FLINT: Yes, Randy is in rough shape.

KING: Dr. Roberts, what do you make of it?

ROBERTS: I was on call last night and got I think the first call just before midnight that there were 12 survivors and to prepare for the possibility that all 12 might come here, so we began to arrange beds and triage patients and resources in the intensive care unit. And then an hour and a half later or so I got the call that only one would come here and that's when I found out that there really was only one survivor.

KING: Who made that first call to you telling you there were survivors coming?

ROBERTS: Our medical command, which would be again information transmitted through the -- from the scene via medical information.

KING: Now, Congresswoman Capito, what do you make of that? He gets a call they're coming. Then they're not coming. This is -- there's a major goof here.

CAPITO: Well I think we can (INAUDIBLE), a major goof, as I said a tragedy upon a tragedy and I think I would agree that probably the lack of communication in that whether they knew exactly what had happened or -- they needed to come back to the church where we were all gathered and at least when they knew there was erroneous information at least give us that much information.

That I think was probably the greatest disservice to everybody in that -- in that church and everybody connected with it. Obviously, they were working under tremendous pressure to try to get the men out as quickly as possible, as safely as possible.

We know that. I don't think anybody questions that and I don't know. I was not at the mine site where the decisions were being made, so I don't know how this transpired for so long.

KING: Congresswoman Capito has to leave us but I want one more, as does Dr. Roberts, I want to ask one more question of Dr. Roberts. The Flints will remain for one more segment. Doctor, what can you say to Tambra and Tim right now about Randy? ROBERTS: We're doing everything we possibly can. He suffered a significant injury and we are -- we have a large team working, many consultants, many advisers, many diagnostic studies, constant vigil in the Intensive Care Unit monitoring him and managing him. We're doing everything we possibly can.

KING: Thank you, doctor. Thank you, Congresswoman. Tim and Tambra will remain. We'll be joined by others as we continue the story of this incredible tragedy. We'll be right back.


KING: Howard Stern joins us tomorrow night before he joins serious radio next Monday.

Remaining with us in the West Virginia University Hospital is Tambra Flint and Tim Flint. They are the mother and stepfather respectively of young Randy who remains in very critical condition in that hospital.

We are also joined by Pastor William Mooring of the New Life Tabernacle Church in Buckhannon, West Virginia. He is at the CNN church location in Tallmansville, as is Anderson Cooper who has been on the scene since the get-go here, and Randi Kaye who has also been on the scene as well reporting through the evening hours last night.

Pastor what do you possibly say to people at a time like this?

PASTOR WILLIAM MOORING, NEW LIFE TABERNACLE CHURCH: Well you have to have a desire to really want the comfort. You actually have to know grief yourself before you can try to offer comfort from that grief.

I knew grief when I lost a son in a tragic automobile accident and there's comfort in the fact of just people being with you. I had a friend that got in a car and drove 600 miles just to be there.

And so when you know that someone is there, someone cares, if you know the power of the miraculous then you can offer comfort to someone. And so that's the desire that we have in these kind of tragic situations to let them know that there is a comfort.

KING: Tambra, at a time like this do you question your faith?

TAMBRA FLINT: It definitely tests it. It really does.

KING: Tim?

TIM FLINT: It strengthens it. You got to have faith to get through things like this.

KING: Do pastors like Pastor Mooring help, Tim?

TIM FLINT: Yes. Yes, there were several on site. They were all very helpful.

KING: But it still, wouldn't you think that that's the hardest thing to do, Tambra, to comfort someone who's had a loss like this and then a high and then a down?

TAMBRA FLINT: Yes, it is.

KING: This is -- Anderson Cooper was on the air all night last night and this is how he, before we talk to him, how he learned about the deaths. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one made it out alive. They said the name was Randal Ware (ph). The governor is 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 but it's a big lie.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's one person alive and he's already en route to the hospital.

COOPER: Where have you gotten this information?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The CEO who's been on the news.

COOPER: You were inside the church?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we were inside the church.

COOPER: And you said there is fist fighting now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are screaming you're a liar. You lied to us.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been misinformation and it's awful.


KING: OK, Anderson, you've handled some incredible stories in your time, what do you make with something like that and what have you been able to learn?

COOPER: Well, I can tell you, I mean that's really the first time I've seen that moment and it's -- it's like a punch in the stomach watching it again. I mean when that woman came out of the darkness with her two children. She was running from the church. She was stunned. I was stunned. Everyone was.

You know we've learned more details about -- about what the mine officials knew. I mean to me that is so much of the focus of what happened here. I mean these mine officials at about -- you know, the families were told by various people working with the mine rescue. They were told about roughly in the area of a quarter to midnight last night by phone calls, unauthorized phone calls. Mine officials knew about 12:30 a.m. this morning that, in fact, only one miner was alive but they weren't sure to believe that report.

And rather than just coming down to the church and saying, you know what, there's jubilation, you know, let's just, let's just hold off on it for now because frankly we don't know really what is going on. We're just getting in more details.

Rather than coming down and doing that they held on to the information for almost three hours and I think that's what a lot of people here are kind of -- they just can't wrap their minds around like why would you hold onto that information for so long when you're seeing these families praising God and hugging each other and crying and I mean this outpouring of emotion that had been bottled up for more than 44 hours?

KING: What logic then can you give to that action or non action?

COOPER: Well, you know, last night the president of the mining company said, "Well, look, these families had been through a roller coaster of emotions. We didn't want to put them through another roller coaster." That one doesn't really make much sense to me today.

Today he was clearly upset. He was near tears today when making a press conference. He said it was a mistake that clearly now he should have come down here to the church and done that. He knows that now and he apologized for not doing that.

KING: Tambra Flint and Tim Flint, all we can do is offer you the prayers and well wishes of everybody associated with CNN. We know you want to get back with your son.

We're going to meet Charles Green (ph) whose daughter Anna is married to Randy. He's Randy's father-in-law. And, Rick McGee (ph), his brother-in-law, his wife is the sister of Randal's wife. And we'll also be joined by Randi Kaye of CNN.

We thank Tambra and Tim. We wish them the best.

We'll also meet Mark Radomsky. Dr. Radomsky is director of field services for the Miner Training Program at Penn State University.

We'll also have an update on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, all that next. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 whose hearts are broken. We ask that the good Lord comfort them in their time of need.


KING: Before we get back to our guests and the discussion of the tragedy in West Virginia, there's another tragedy possibly about to take place overseas in Israel. And we go to CNN's John Vause in Jerusalem. John?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, right now, all we know is that Ariel Sharon is still on the operating table, four and a half hours now. He continues to fight for his life. Doctors continue to try and drain what they describe as a significant amount of blood from his brain. The only update we're getting is not coming from the doctors here. But it's coming from the aides close to the prime minister.

They say they've been briefed by the doctors. They've been told that the operation is progressing well. That Ariel Sharon is in a stable condition. Also, Ariel Sharon's personal physician says he expects the prime minister to emerge from this surgery, in his words, safely. Very, very ambiguous.

And even if it all goes as well as could be expected, there are still many questions about the long-term prognosis. How long will it take Ariel Sharon to make a full recovery, if at all. Larry?

KING: Thank you very much. John Vause on the scene. And he'll be there through the night and morning hours in Israel. We're joined by Dr. Mark Radomsky, he's director of field services for the miner training program at Penn State's Department of Energy and Geoenvironmental Engineering. He's advised in the aftermath of the 2002 flood disaster and rescue at Quecreek in Somerset, Pennsylvania. His work in the coal mines, his grandfather was killed in a mining accident. Why do -- we know they make money, Mark. And we know they're necessary. But why do they do what they do?

MARK RADOMSKY, DIRECTOR FIELD SERVICES, MINER TRAINING PROGRAM: Well, part of it is, it's in the family, it's in the blood. And there are good wages. And usually it's pretty steady work. So, that's a lot of reasons for doing it.

KING: In the training program, are any of these things forecastable? There have been complaints about this particular mine. Can you say that, over there, is dangerous?

RADOMSKY: You can and that's really what safety's all about, to identify the hazards and then try to control them, to try to remove them, to make them less a problem. So, that's always going on, in the mine, as well as in the training room.

KING: Pastor Mooring, how does a pastor explain to a bereaved, a mistake? Someone who's been told, your relative is alive and then told he's dead, or she's's dead?

MOORING: Tragedy is horrible and when tragedy such as that comes, all you can do is just let them know that it is a mistake. But yet, our hope is in our great God that's above. And we put our faith and our trust in him because he will see us through whatever the tragedy.

KING: Don't you doubt the faith when there is tragedy?

MOORING: I don't think that we really doubt our faith. Sometimes it may waiver. But in knowing that the miraculous comes from our great God, well then he is there. And he will see us through. He does know best.

KING: Anderson Cooper, you've been around victims in lots of areas. In the tsunami, in Baghdad, in Florida, in Louisiana. Are these people different? Are miner families different? Are coal miners different?

COOPER: You know, these miners are tough men. I mean, a lot of these miners, a lot of the men who died, had 30-plus years of experience. I think Terry Helms, I think had 32 years of experience in these mines. It is a special breed. There's not a lot of opportunities around here. It's a decent wage in these communities.

You know, they get health plans. Mining communities, this is a small community, Larry. And these families -- it's almost like watching a soldier go off to war every day. Or watching a police officer. If you're a loved one going off to war or going off to do their job. They're entering the mines every day. They're taking on these dangers every day.

And the families kind of share that burden with them every day. Every day they see them leaving out the door, they don't know what's going to happen in that mine. It's a dangerous way of life, but it's a way of life that continues here. And so much of our energy in the United States comes from coal.

KING: Anderson, does everybody in that town know everybody else?

COOPER: I think -- everyone seems connected in one way or another either through their faith, through their church, through actual relations, or just through friendship.

I mean -- I think a lot -- I'm not sure that everyone actually knows everyone else, but people do feel very close here. And a lot of people, even if they didn't have -- weren't relatives of miners or friends of miners, they would come by and bring coffee, bring donuts, bring whatever they could to the mining families. It's that kind of community, Larry.

KING: Do you wonder why they go down in those mines?

COOPER: Wonder why people do? You know, I'll tell you Terry Helms, one of the miners who died told his son he didn't want him going down in these mines. He wanted his son to have a better way of life and got him to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, find some another job. You know, I think for a lot of people, they say it is in the blood. But there's just not a lot of opportunity for other -- you know, it is a big employer down here. And, you know, it pays a pretty good wage. KING: What, Dr. Radomsky, is the pay of the average coal miner, since John L. Lewis, their famous union leader, got them decent wages and overtime. What does the average coal miner get now?

RADOMSKY: Well it varies from location-to-location, mine-to- mine, but miners can make $40,000, $50,000, $60,000, $70,000, $80,000, $90,000 a year with the benefits.

KING: Depending on length of service?

RADOMSKY: Well, that's part of it. But it's more determined by what you do in the mines, whether you're a miner operator, if you operate the continuous miner piece of equipment, or whether you're a mine official. In other words, a boss.

KING: What's it like down there, Mark?

RADOMSKY: It's dark. It can be fairly constant cool temperature. And it's a very harsh environment. And there are a lot of hazards.

KING: A lot of buddy depending on buddy?

RADOMSKY: Absolutely. There's that. There's that camaraderie and that bond that you have. People looking out for each other. Miners looking out for each other. Both inside the mine, as well as outside the mine.

KING: We'll take a break and be right back. Don't go away.


BEN HATFIELD, CEO, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: We sincerely regret the manner in which the events unfolded early this morning. The occurrences at the Sago Mine over the past couple of days, are truly a great tragedy. It is unfortunate. And we are saddened by the fact that the communication problems we experienced last night, only added to the terrible tragedy.



KING: We'll be taking some calls in this segment. And Anderson Cooper will be leaving us shortly to host "AC 360" at the top of the hour.

Joining us in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is Charles Green. His daughter, Anna, is married to Randy McCloy, the sole survivor at the Sago mine tragedy. And at the CNN church vigil location in Tallmansville is CNN correspondent, Randi Kaye. Charles, your daughter Anna is married to Randy. How is she holding up?


KING: How about you?

GREEN: I'm doing all right.

KING: What kind of son-in-law is Randy?

GREEN: He is the best. He's really the best. Can't say nothing bad about him.

KING: Do you worry about -- do you work in the mines?

GREEN: No, sir, I don't. I used to work mine construction. I work at Wal-Mart, now.

KING: Do you worry about him working in the mines?

GREEN: Yes, sir, I do. I got two son-in-laws work in the mines. They both work in the same mines.

KING: How did you hear about this?

GREEN: Well, I got home from work and somebody called, my son- in-law's sister called and told us about it.

KING: What do you think about the way this has been handled, with regard to telling them they're safe?

GREEN: Well, I don't like to say -- there was a mixup in the communications is what I call it. I don't know if you may have heard it on there. But there's a mixup in the communications is what caused all that.

And another thing that a lot of them don't know, that the three hours that the people waited there, we thought they was all still alive, what they'd done they found the miners. They was trying, you know, to give all them artificial respirations and everything. They did try to get them to survive. See if any of them was going to survive. But they were already dead. I mean, but that's what took all the time.

KING: So, you don't issue as much blame as others are doing?

GREEN: No, sir, I don't. I'm a --

KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Charles.

GREEN: I feel -- I mean, I feel devastated for them, the other 12 -- families. My heart goes out to them. Our whole families heart goes out to them. They suffered a lot. But our heart goes out to them.

KING: Randi Kaye, weren't there questions about the safety of the Sago mine?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were questions about the safety of the Sago mine. There have been numerous violation there. The International Coal Group that just took it over. They just took it over six weeks ago. From what I understand, they were working to improve the safety there.

We spoke with a few people that didn't want to go on-camera with us. But they were talking about some of their relatives that worked in that mine before, had suffered injuries. A broken leg. One woman who interviewed today. Actually, he's a woman that lost her father, Fred Ware Jr., (ph) in the mine in the last couple of days. She said her father told her he was convinced he would die in that mine, Larry.

KING: Anderson, if something's wrong with an airplane when it lands, the pilot reports it and that plane doesn't fly again until it's all right. If there's a question about safety in a mine, why wouldn't it be corrected before you go back down?

COOPER: Well, the mine received numerous violations. Usually, you have to basically pay a fine for the violations. Not a big fine at that. It's rare that the federal government will move in and shut down a mine.

But I think there's going to be a lot of new questions asked, just about mine safety. And about how the inspections are done. And what kind of violations in particular, this mine had, and whether that might have played any role.

At this point, certainly company officials aren't talking about it. And the investigations, really, are going to be in their early days. There's going to be a lot of people looking into exactly what violations this mine did incur over the last year and especially over the last several months. And what role, if any, that might have played.

KING: Anderson, thanks for your yeoman like work. See you at the top of the hour.

Dr. Radomsky, when would they close a mine? You stay with us, Randi.

RADOMSKY: They close a mine when they find an imminent danger. They find a situation that puts the mine and the miners at risk. So then they would close the mine. People would go out of the mine. Miners would go out of the mine. Except for those who are there to correct the problem.

When there is a violation, the MSHA will give the mines a certain amount of time to fix it. In the case of an imminent danger, though, they want that fixed right away.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back we'll include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.


Howard stern, tomorrow night. With us is Pastor William Mooring, Dr. Radomsky and CNN correspondent, Randi Kaye. Let's take a call. Perryville, Missouri, Hello.

CALLER: I was wondering why in the beginning they didn't go down the tunnel with one of them buses or a mining cart with 20, 30, breathing apparatuses on it.

KING: Dr. Radomsky, would you guess as to why not?

RADOMSKY: You need to make sure there isn't going to be a secondary explosion. There isn't going to be a roof fall. When there's an explosion, it's going to weaken the roof support. It's going to blow out the ventilation control. You just can't run into a situation.

There are a lot of examples where rescuers have gone in and they perished in the process.

KING: Is that gas leakage, that kind of thing common in a mine?

RADOMSKY: Absolutely. With coal seams, you're always going to get methane as you're digging the coal, removing the coal, you're going to get methane. But fortunately, with the ventilation, you're going to dilute that methane and get the toxic elements out of the air.

KING: South Brunswick, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: I just have a comment. I'm a communications officer and I don't think that people understand that when you have an emergency, whether it's a structural fire, a motor vehicle accident, or an entrapment, there are so many people and agencies involved, besides the police, the rescue and the fire.

There's civilians, the gas, the electric, the water company. There's just so many people that listen to the police radio channels. And as unfortunate and tragic as this has been, I just think that the public needs to be made aware that they may never know the source of this information.

KING: All right. Since you're a communications officer, though, but who would logically send out something saying they're safe when they're -- how could it happen? Give me the scenario,

CALLER: That's what people might not understand. That the rescue workers may have never said that they were safe. They might have just said that they located the 12 survivors. And somebody then, in the command center could have responded back and asked, you know, are they alive? How many? And somebody could have just heard 12 survivors alive, and that's how this could have started.

Like I said, it could have been a civilian who was just listening and thought they heard what they heard. I mean, it happens even with law enforcement. Like I said, rescue and fire, when they're called to a scene. Until everybody can gather all the information and know exactly what's going on, everybody is asking over the radio.

KING: Excellent call. So you could have heard two words, are they rescued? Yes, are they alive. And just hearing rescued and alive, putting two and two together, you say nothing.

CALLER: And that's how simple, it can take off, unfortunately. I mean, my heart aches for these people, but like I said, you have so many people involved. And, you know, unless you're the one person that's, you know, communicating with whoever is down there, there's so many people listening. And what they think they heard or what they thought they heard, and unfortunately that's what happens.

KING: Excellent call. Randi, isn't that a good point?

KAYE: That is a good point.

KING: No malice.

KAYE: From what we understand, Larry -- from what we understand, there was what's called a mining phone down below about 13,000 feet deep into that mine. And there were a lot of people in the command center. We're told both state and federal officials were listening to the reports that were coming from the rescue crews.

But certainly it appears that there was a mistake, a miscommunication. It's just so unfortunate, Larry, that the families were told initially what they were told. And they celebrated. We were there, we watched. We waited at the base of the coal mine with them for the ambulances to come down.

They were told their loved ones were coming back to that Sago Baptist Church, where they had been waiting for them for more than 40 hours. So we knew the mood had changed. We watched, we could see the rescue workers coming out, we could see the firefighters, the paramedics. They were hugging. They were hugging in a way that was not at all celebratory. So we knew right away that something was wrong. And of course the clue that only one ambulance had come down, carrying one sole miner.

KING: Knoxville, Tennessee, hello?

CALLER: Yes, Larry, first our condolences for all the families. Our question is Larry, they're talking about all this money being made on the coal mine industry. Why don't they equip these companies with GPS, so in case they get trapped, they can find them when they're in there and go straight to them?

KING: Dr. Radomsky?

RADOMSKY: Well, they're always making progress with technology. They really haven't -- as far as I know, explored that type of technology.

KING: Why not?

RADOMSKY: Well they do use GPS of course in mining and in blasting, and so forth. And if you recall, they used it at Quecreek to definitively locate the location to drill the hole. But you know, this is something that perhaps NIOSH could be looking into it. And it's an area that we need to explore. KING: We'll take a break and come back and get some words of comfort from Pastor Mooring and some more comments from our guests. Don't go away.


GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: To sit here and try to put blame or make someone at fault, it's not what this is about. This is about a heroic effort in extreme conditions, with one miracle survivor. And I was hoping for 13.



KING: Green Bay, Wisconsin, hello?

CALLER: Oh, Larry. Yes, this question would be for Dr. Radomsky. I'm just curious why the mining industry doesn't create some sort of safe rooms every so often, in these mines. So, you know, if they have these sort of tragedies happen, they're able to get to a safe room that has, you know, adequate oxygen tanks in there and stuff so they can sustain life a lot longer.

KING: Sounds logical, doctor.

RADOMSKY: I am aware of refuge units. They're like small trailers. They have oxygen, they have food, they have water, supplies and communications. I just don't know how extensively they are deployed in the mines or used in the mines. But they are out there. The technology is there.

KING: Charlton, Massachusetts, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Mr. King. How are you?

KING: Fine. What's the question?

CALLER: My question is, instead of wasting more money, mines are never going to be safe. They'll always have gases. Why not make open pits, like Wyoming does?

KING: Dr. Radomsky?

RADOMSKY: Well, you have to mine the coal or the mineral in such a way that makes it economically feasible. She's talking about the large seams out in Wyoming. And the mining method is surface mining, but in the East and other places, it's not economically feasible to take the overburden. So you have to have underground mines to do that.

KING: Pastor Mooring, we have about a minute left. What would you say to these people?

MOORING: I'd say keep your faith in God because that's where our hope comes from. We reach out under him. He is there. And he is the one that would lift us up. He will show us the miraculous. A gift from God is a gift and we have to convey to people that you don't have to earn a gift.

You don't have to be good. It's just that it comes from God. And he desires to give that to you. And so, we open our hearts to everyone that's in need, to try to help them understand, to know that our God does care. Our God does want to move on their behalf.

KING: Thank you, Pastor Mooring. Thank you. Randi Kaye, do you think most people share that tonight?

KAYE: I do, Larry. Just in speaking with the community members here, they're trying to keep the faith. This is a very, very close- knit community. They do believe that somebody is looking after them, looking over them. They held that special candlelight vigil tonight. They're trying to find some solace here, desperately.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thank our guests earlier as well. We'll of course be keeping you up to date on this story throughout the night, on the condition of the young man in the hospital and the condition of Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow night, Howard Stern joins us, just three days -- well, he debuts Monday on Sirius radio. He's left, this is his first interview since leaving commercial radio. Andy Rooney on Friday. Right now, we turn the tables over -- he's down on the scene, as he was with us in the past hour. To host "A.C. 360" and this continuing tragedy, Anderson Cooper. Anderson, what can you say?