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American Morning

Continued Coverage of Utah Rescue Accident

Aired August 17, 2007 - 05:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Now even more families wait, pray and hope for any news. Our coverage continues now with Kiran Chetry, Rob Marciano and Your American Way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking News. Another cave-in at the mine in Utah. Three rescuers killed trying to reach the trapped miners.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It's a devastating thought to what was already a tragic situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What went wrong? What now for the rescue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We as a state don't want anymore injuries. We've had enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And for anguished families.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a terrible thing. Everybody's close and everybody knows somebody that's been in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The minute-by-minute development live from the scene on this special edition of American Morning.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning. Welcome to this special edition -- early edition of American Morning. It's Friday, August 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Rob Marciano in for John Roberts. We're bringing you the latest breaking news out of central Utah where three miners are now dead. Six injured rescue workers actually after the mine collapsed last night.

CHETRY: Right. And it's 5:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 3:00 a.m. in Huntington, Utah right now and the rescue operation at Crandall Canyon Mine has turned deadly. As Rob said, three rescue workers killed and six more hurt while they were trying to tunnel through to save the trapped Utah miners who have been stuck now for 11 days. Utah's Mayor calling the news a devastating blow to an already tragic situation. The men were trying to clear coal and rubble from the only path out when an eruption, a bump as they call it of rock and debris came down. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is calling it a seismic bump. It happened 10 days after the walls burst filling at least 1,800 feet of the main tunnel with coal. The mine's owner says that rescuers are still over 1,000 feet from reaching the section where the trapped men were believed to be working and still no one knows whether they survived the initial collapse. There are now questions over whether more people should be putting their lives on the line. Kara Finnstrom is standing by at the hospital. We also have our Dan Simon who was outside the mine this morning.

MARCIANO: And we begin with Dan. Dan, you've been reporting all night long rescue operations have shut down. What's the latest now and is there any activity where you are?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Rob. You can see this road behind me. This is the road that the ambulances went down to get to the mine. This really started about 6:30 last night. We saw the first of the ambulances going down that road. Absolutely a horrific event. We found out that there was a seismic bump inside the mine. Nine rescuers were injured at first and then we heard that three of them eventually lost their lives. We know that all the rescuers have been pulled out of the mine.

This had been a 24/7 operation really since this all began about 11 days ago when you had six miners doing their daily work mining inside that area removing the coal. They experienced a seismic event. They have been trapped ever since and for the last 11 days you've had more than 100 plus workers in there around the clock trying to free those trapped miners. Well, last night at 6:30 in the evening you had some folks down there. Those nine people were going through that area trying to carve out a path to free those trapped miners when they experienced this significant seismic bump. Some of the walls caved in. They were apparently buried beneath it and again three people have lost their lives, Rob.

MARCIANO: Dan, it seems like relatively speaking a pretty short amount of time between the accident and getting these guys out of there and into the ambulances. Any indication as to how far deep in the mine they were? How much rubble and coal had to be dug through to rescue these rescue workers?

SIMON: Well we know that the ambulances showed up very quickly. The seismic event occurred about 6:35 local time. We saw the first ambulances arrive about 10 minutes to 7 so paramedics got here very quickly. In terms of how far the rescuers progressed inside that tunnel if you will we're not quite sure. We know that they'd only gone about 850 feet up 2,000 feet. That's where they believed the trapped miners are. As you know, Rob, this has been an agonizingly slow process because of the continued seismic activity. It's so dangerous in there. Crews have been trying to shore up the walls and the ceilings by using beams -- wooden beams and steel beams. Last week, we know a couple of days the operations were shutdown because of a continued seismic activity. The owner, Bob Murray said that he was not going to let rescuers in there until it was safe. Apparently, they did feel it was safe but of course nobody could have predicted what happened last night, Rob.

MARCIANO: Dan Simon, live (source) near the opening to that mine in Huntington, Utah. Thank you, Dan.

CHETRY: Ambulances and helicopters rushed to the site. Some from as far away as 140 miles in Salt Lake City. Medics were seen doing chest compressions. Six surviving rescuers were treated at hospitals overnight. At least three are still in serious condition this morning. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is at Castleview Hospital. It's the closest hospital to the mine and she's been there all night as the story has unfolded. Has there been any update on the conditions of those injured rescuers Kara?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No there hasn't. The last confirmed report we had from hospital officials here was that there were three people still being treated here and all three of those with serious injuries. We are about 45 minutes away from where we just heard from Dan Simon up there at the mine. Those ambulances rushed this way and brought those rescue workers in here. Also, at the same as all that was happening word was starting to get out in this community that there had been another accident in the mine and people from throughout this community just started showing up. They wanted to know who was hurt and how bad these injuries were.

So at the same time we heard from the City Council member that the mine operators up there asked all of the rescue workers to just leave. The rescue operations had been shutdown to come down to the bottom of the hill and to let their loved ones know that they were okay. A short time ago we did hear from the governor of the state. He came to actually check in on the families. Went in for a briefing, met with the families then he came out to speak with us and the one thing that was very clear in everything he had to say was he does not want this rescue operation to continue for the six trapped miners until (inaudible) the Mine Safety Health officials can absolutely guarantee that it is safe and here's some of what he had to say.

JOHN HUNTSMAN, JR., GOVERNOR OF UTAH: We as a state don't want anymore injuries. We've had enough and all I would say to Congress and to the regulators is let's use these experiences over the last many days as examples and lessons for how we can begin to do things in the future a little bit better. I think this is a defining moment for the history of mining and we all expect to come out of this better and smarter and safer.

FINNSTROM: And Kiran, this is going to be a very difficult day for these families tomorrow because there are still six trapped miners there so what do you do you know if it's not safe to reach them? These six families are still going to want some conclusion. Many of them have told us repeatedly that they feel that they miners could still be alive so there's some very difficult decisions laying in the day ahead.

CHETRY: Seems that some of those answers may lie in what they find as they get this fourth drill, this fourth hole that they've been tunneling down. So far the three have not really given many answers as to whether or not they're alive. What is the process and progress of that fourth drill hole they're attempting?

FINNSTROM: Well we've been asking that actually of everyone tonight. Haven't gotten a real clear answer but the feeling that we seem to be getting from most including the Governor is he felt that the progress would continue from the top of the mine, the drilling down the dropping down. They're trying to look through these peep- holes if you will to see if these miners are okay and if they are okay to continue feeding them food and water and have that be a lifeline of support but we don't know. We don't know where the progress is with that. Obviously tonight this all turned into a completely different operation. It took a horrific turn just about 10 hours ago so it's not clear if they have been able to regroup and continue to make any progress on that fourth hole.

CHETRY: Kara Finnstrom reporting outside of the hospital in Utah this morning on the conditions of those six injured. Thank you.

MARCIANO: Well as Congress debates new mine safety legislation is the Utah disaster a wake-up call for the coal mining industry as a whole? Well joining us now is Bruce Watzman. He's the vice president of Safety and Health for the National Mining Association. In September, we should add, he's actually leaving that job to go to work for Bob Murray the owner of this Utah mine. Mr. Watzman, live for us in Washington. Good morning, Mr. Watzman. I wish it could be better circumstances but we have a few questions for you. Hopefully, you can share some insight. There's been a number of mining accidents over the years. Kind of part of the trade. It's a dangerous business. Have you ever heard or seen of any event like this with so many heartbreaking twists and turns in so many days?

BRUCE WATZMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL MINING ASSOCIATION: Each one of these events is heartbreaking. We have had incidents in the past where rescue workers have been hurt or killed trying to save their brothers in the mines and each one of these is tragic.

MARCIANO: Let's talk a little bit about safety. You know, our viewers have become familiar with this video underground of water dripping from the ceiling of the cold walls being reinforced by wood, by wire. It just doesn't look like a very safe environment. I know it's a dangerous business but what kind of precautions are taken to provide safety for these miners going into these dangerous places?

WATZMAN: Well the mines have become safer but we have more work to do. We're bringing new technologies into the mines. Last year's legislation passed by the Congress requires that we bring in better communications systems, tracking systems. We look forward to the day when we have the technology that will allow us to do what Congress wanted us to set out to do. Unfortunately, the technology has not yet advanced to that point but we provide extensive training to the miners. They're equipped with safety equipment that they take underground with them but we learn from these events and as the Governor said we'll do better in the future. The mines will be safer in the future.

MARCIANO: Bruce, this particular mine over the last 12 months, since last August there's been 67 violations, 40 percent of which have been considered serious. As a lay person, that sounds pretty bad to me is it?

WATZMAN: Well, no. I don't think it's out of the ordinary. From a lay perspective it does. One equates that to getting traffic citations and after 60 citations you would lose our license but that's not out of the ordinary in an underground mine given the environment and given the inspection regime that is undertaken.

MARCIANO: We're getting some word that before this all happened some of the miners from the miners that are trapped were expressing their concerns over the safety of this mine. Do you have any reaction to that or is this something that's kind of water cooler talk for miners in general?

WATZMAN: Well I hadn't heard that. I know that there are some miners who informed the company since the original event that they didn't want to go back underground but I had not heard that any miners had informed the company in advance of the event that they felt that it was an unsafe mine to be in.

MARCIANO: I'd like to get a quick clarification if I could on some terminology. We keep hearing seismic bumps, underground bumps. Bumps seems to be a term that miners use. What is it? What is a bump and is there a difference between underground and seismic?

WATZMAN: A bump is just a seismic event underground that causes a build-up of pressure and that is usually released by the coal coming off of either the roof or the rib so it's just an underground seismic event if you will that results in a pressure build up.

MARCIANO: But it wouldn't occur unless -- if there weren't any mining going on there. It's not like the earth -- you can't equate it to an earthquake. It's because that we're digging into this mountain, correct?

WATZMAN: Well I don't know the answer to that. I'm not a seismologist. I think they're better equipped to answer that than I am.

MARCIANO: Fair enough. Hopefully, we'll get -- we're actually (inaudible) to get one on this morning. But we thank you for your insight on safety and health with the National Mining Association. Bruce Watzman this morning. Thank you very much, sir.

WATZMAN: Thank you.

CHETRY: Well you might recall CNN was the first TV network to get inside of the rescue operation last week inside the actual mine shaft. We're going to show you and hear from our correspondent who was inside as rescuers were trying to reach the trapped men and they experienced some seismic activity when our crew was inside as well. We're going to also hear from the families of rescuers ahead on American Morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back to a special edition of American Morning. There's breaking news from the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah where the rescue efforts to save six miners has turned deadly. Three rescuers were killed, six others hurt in a second collapse following something known as a seismic bump, some sort of activity that took place underground that caused coal to spill out and to fall. They were pulled from the coal and the rock during day 10 of the operation to save the trapped miners. About an hour ago we heard the latest from Utah's governor. He says there's a deep sense of sadness. He also called for a halt to the initial rescue operations until there can be some guarantee of the safety of the rest of the hundred or so workers -- rescuers that were in that mine.

MARCIANO: According to the CDC, an average of two coal miners are seriously injured each year and one miner is killed about every other year because of these seismic bumps like the one that triggered the second cave-in. CNNs Gary Tuckman was the first network correspondent to be in the mine last week and during that time he actually experienced one of these mine bumps. He explained what it was like to be underground at the time.

GARY TUCKMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When the pillars -- the coal pillars that support the top of the mine experienced weight and they literally explode from the weight above. There's a lot of weight above this mine. This is a very deep mine particularly compared to (inaudible) and when you're talking sago (ph) you were talking about the miners being trapped about 200 feet below ground level. These miners are trapped 18 to (inaudible) below ground level so there's a lot of mountain on top of it. It almost sounds like a concussion bomb which we hear during war just like boom unshook and I thought the coal was going to start falling down. That's how powerful I thought it was (inaudible) in the mine. Bob Murray the owner of the mine told us this was a relatively small one but this is something that (inaudible) since this rescue has taken place. It's important to point out that there was a full two days and that was like on Tuesday and Wednesday when they stopped all activity inside the mine because they were getting so many of these mountain bumps and it was considered too dangerous for the miners to be there and none of us pooh-poohed that. We realized that mountain bumps were happening and that was dangerous and these guys were taking risks but now to hear this is happening it really feels like a nightmare.

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

CHETRY: Coal mining is more than a job in communities like this one in Utah. Everybody knows that when their loved ones go in they may not come out because most of them did it as well. Last night, Anderson Cooper spoke to one miner's mother as the wounded workers were being pulled from the rubble.

PATSIE CHRISTIE, ONE MINER'S MOTHER: I know that my son's okay. He's probably like all the rest of them just in shock in the mine that he did (inaudible) his life and he was not injured.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you heard the news I mean obviously it's something every mining family fears and how quickly did you get the information that your son was okay? Did you get the information of what was going on?

CHRISTIE: It was probably an hour or so after it happened. My daughter-in-law got word from the mine and she called me.

COOPER: And your thoughts as you hear that there has been one fatality. That there are eight others injured. Obviously, your thoughts go out to those families. CHRISTIE: Yes, yes. It's a terrible thing and we're a close-nit community in both counties -- we're both coal mining counties. Everybody's close and everybody knows somebody that's in there. So we're just trying to hold everybody else up and it's just a horrible thing that's happened.

COOPER: Your son, is he part of the rescue effort?


COOPER: That's got -- I was talking to some folks, Dennis O'Dell from United Mine Workers who was saying that it takes a special breed of person to be a miner to begin with but to be a miner who's involved in a rescue operations that's -- it is doubly dangerous. You go into a volatile area fully aware of all the risks. As a mom, it's got to be something that just makes you worry.

CHRISTIE: It is and I was a coal miner and my husband was a coal miner. We come from coal mining families so we do know what the risks are and I have another son in another mine so it has been difficult.

COOPER: I can't even imagine. What do you want people who are watching tonight and there are a lot of people watching and no doubt praying and they're going to be saying prayers as they go to bed tonight. What do you want them to know about your son and the others who are there now?

CHRISTIE: (inaudible) today has went over and above what was expected of them and my son doesn't work in that mine. He works in another mines and still has been in here for 11 months and he wouldn't have been anywhere else.

COOPER: Is that right?

CHRISTIE: He was there and it's the only place he could have even thought of being.

COOPER: Even knowing the dangers?

CHRISTIE: And that goes for all of these men.

COOPER: He wouldn't want to be anywhere else because his fellow miners were trapped?

CHRISTIE: That's right and that goes for every man that's on that mountain and in that mountain. They're heroes. There's men and women in there and working around the clock to rescue these six people and there's people all over in the mine. There's people outside of the mine and they're all just working over and above what would even be expected but they're doing it because these are their brothers, their sisters and friends.

CHETRY: So you just get a picture of life is like in these mining communities when mining is so vital to the economy. It's the most lucrative way to make a living in a lot of these places and it's really a way of life and this is the rare instance when something like this happens but it certainly has really gathered the attention of the entire country.

MARCIANO: And you can just hear in their voice that their hearts have just dropped. You know the hope that they were hoping for the six trapped miners and now not just this setback but this tragedy going on with the rescue efforts.

CHETRY: And it's quite a turnaround. I mean yesterday we had a glimmer of hope when they talked about seeing the cameras finding a structure in tact and also evidence possibly that a ventilation curtain was put up. They also talked yesterday about the fact that there is still enough water and viable oxygen that people could survive. Today, of course, a totally different situation and a lot of that optimism faded.

MARCIANO: No doubt about it. Well certainly a disaster during the rescue effort at the Crandall Canyon Mine. We're going to take a look at mines emergency response plan and whether rescue operations will now be suspended for good. That's ahead on American Morning.


CHETRY: Welcome back to a breaking news edition of American Morning. We're following the latest developments. The sad news overnight that three rescue workers have been killed and six others hurt as they were trying to reach the six trapped Utah miners of the Crandall Canyon Mine. How up-to-date was the Emergency Rescue Plan there and what is the latest tragedy hold in terms of whether or not the rescue effort will be restarted? A lot of questions this morning.

MARCIANO: Certainly. And you can just imagine what that plan would entail to get somebody out from underneath 1,800 feet of rock and coal. Alina Cho is here with a little bit more on that.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Especially when you consider that's 1,800 feet deep. They were very deep in the mine. We did a lot of research into this and we were actually able to track down a letter to the mine owners that was sent by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. It was dated June 13th of this year. Just two months ago and it says that the Emergency Response Plan submitted by the Crandall Canyon Mine had been reviewed and approved in its entirety. It also states that the response plan must be looked at and updated every six months. Now those updates would include relocation of escape ways, changes in the mine layout, and even changes in the way they go about mining. Now what's interesting is that very same letter says that all portions of the Emergency Response Plan must be "implemented immediately with the exception" and this is key the exception of breathable air provisions which according to the letter must be in place by 60 days from the date of the letter. Now it is unclear whether those breathable air provisions were put in place before the mine collapsed but they would include so called safe havens and enough oxygen cylinders for 18 miners for 96 hours. Of course when you consider what happened last night, breathable air would not be the first concern. That so called seismic bump or the second disaster can cause the walls of the mine tunnel to explode inward and guys a source with intimate knowledge of the mine has told CNN that several of the miners had expressed concerns about working in the area of the collapse. Of course the mine owner, Bob Murray dismisses those concerns and those reports saying that they're just rumors but nonetheless that is the latest reporting that we have.

CHETRY: When we take a look at that map and I believe we had it earlier of just how far in they are and the tunneling process, I mean you talk about breathable air for 96 hours they were not even a third of the way in when this latest tragedy happened just because of how far and how many rubble cave-ins their were experiencing along the way.

CHO: That's right and it's unclear -- we were talking about this off the air earlier Kiran -- unclear as to what the future of the rescue is going to be now that this second disaster has happened. They have said they are going to continue digging from the top that fourth hole, but remember, that's only a peep-hole really. That's only to see whether the miners are alive. They wouldn't actually reach the miners but of course there's a lot of hope that they'll be able to have some sort of confirmation at least from the top to see whether those miners are still alive or whether they in fact died just after the collapse.

MARCIANO: You can imagine what it's like on the ground there the push and pull. You've got the governor that says he doesn't want anymore injuries, no more deaths. He wants to stop pretty much the rescue effort and then you have the miner camp who want to get those guys out.

CHO: And we should be clear that the 130 or so rescuers for now have been pulled. I am sure they are mulling over exactly what to do next but for now those rescuers have been pulled until further notice.

CHETRY: All right. I think they were talking about between 24 and 48 hours when they had that fourth drill hole.

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: Maybe it will give them more information. Maybe they'll get some answers.

CHO: Well we certainly hope so.

CHETRY: Alina Cho. We'll check in with you a little later. Thanks a lot.

We're going to take a quick break, and we're going to bring you late word when we come back.

Again, if you're just joining us, the sad news developing overnight - three rescuers killed in a second cave-in at the Crandall Canyon mine. Six of those rescuers are in the hospital.

The rescue effort for the original six miners has been suspended indefinitely, and we're expected to talk with the governor of Utah within moments. We're also going to hear from a witness at the mine that was there during the rescue, the emergency, taking these rescue workers to the hospital. All of that ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


KIRAN CHETRY, ANCHOR, CNN'S AMERICAN MORNING: Well, welcome back. It is Friday, August 17th, and this is a special early edition of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROB MARCIANO, ANCHOR, CNN'S AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm Rob Marciano in for John Roberts.

We continue to follow this story, a disaster last night at the Utah mine as rescuers were digging to get at those six trapped miners. The way that the walls came in, the mine collapsed. Three people dead, six others injured.

CHETRY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) something they're calling a seismic bump. And we were asking the question today, what caused it? Could it have had anything to do with the earthquake in Peru?

MARCIANO: That's possible. And, you know, we'd like to talk with somebody at the USGS. Whenever there is an earthquake, there are tensions and tugs and pulls in waves that ripple throughout the rest of the plates throughout the world.

Now, there's no plate intersection in Utah, per se. But who knows? I mean, anything's possible, and we'll hope to get those answers before this day is done.

CHETRY: There's also a lot of movement that takes place and stress on the coal and the columns underneath the mine whenever they're doing this type of deep drilling, which they've been doing for almost two weeks.

MARCIANO: I just think, when you look at common sense, you've got this big mountain of rock and coal, and you're drilling holes through it both horizontally and vertically, underneath 1,800 feet of this stuff, it just weakens it. And it's definitely a dangerous place, and we're seeing the repercussions of that.

CHETRY: And now because of that, they have now suspended the rescue efforts. But we're going to have much more on that. In fact, we're going to be joined by the governor of Utah in just a moment.

But first, we're going to head to Dan Simon, who is there at the scene to bring us the latest on what is going on there. Hi, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, HUNTINGTON, UTAH: Well, good morning, Kiran. Absolutely catastrophic what happened last night.

About 6:30 in the evening we saw the ambulances show up at the scene. We really weren't sure what was happening. Then all of a sudden we saw into those ambulances, and we saw the rescuers being treated by paramedics. And then the information just started trickling out. And before we knew it, we've learned that nine people were involved in this accident and three people lost their lives. You know, this really started about 11 days ago, when you first had these six miners get trapped in the mine. Since then, you've had basically a 24/7 effort with more than 100 rescuers who have been in the mine, working in shifts.

When they were there yesterday trying to sort of dig out these miners, trying to carve out a path to get them to safety, and all of a sudden you had one of these seismic bumps - a significant seismic bump - part of the wall apparently caved in. And nine people, obviously, a part of it, and three people lost their lives, Kiran.

CHETRY: Can you explain, also, the type of conditions that they were working under as they were trying to tunnel through horizontally?

I mean, the word we're getting is they were only able to clear out about 26 feet of tunnel in nearly a day of work. That would be leaving some two miles or more to continue to get through to even have a hope of reaching where they believe the six original miners are trapped.

SIMON: Well, Bob Murray, in a press briefing yesterday said that, actually, there was some seismic activity yesterday morning and also the night before. So, obviously, the conditions were dangerous.

We had heard Mr. Murray say time and again that these were the most dangerous conditions he had seen in 50 years of mining. Obviously, we witnessed that last night.

And as you said, Kiran, efforts have basically come to a halt. We know that all the rescuers were immediately pulled out once this occurred last night. And the question remains, will these efforts resume? We just don't know.

CHETRY: All right. Dan Simon, we'll check in with you throughout the morning. Thank you.

MARCIANO: We now want to turn to Gary Tuchman. Gary is one of the few journalists who have actually been inside the Crandall Canyon mine since the tragedy happened more than a week ago.

Gary is actually traveling back to Utah this morning, but he joins us live from the Miami airport to maybe provide a little bit of perspective.

Gary, you're one of the few people that have been inside that mine. You felt the ground shake and the walls kind of shake around you.

What does it feel like to be in that mine? And does what happened last night, I mean, completely surprise you? Or were you afraid of this happening when you were inside the mine?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, MIAMI (by phone): Well, no, Rob. I'm not completely surprised at all, because when we were in the mine for a two-hour tour, there were five journalists who were allowed into the mine. We went three miles in, we went 2,000 feet down. There was a 30- minute ride just to get to the point where the men were working to try to get their comrades out.

And in the middle of our visit, we had this shake and this kind of concussion boom, and the mine started shaking. And I looked at the coalminers' faces, and they looked scared.

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

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

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

But either way, it was very scary when we were in there. And when we came out, we realized these miners are taking amazing risks by being inside this mine.

And that's why at least 12 of them had decided over the last few days they no longer could do it psychologically. From a safety standpoint they were very concerned, and they asked to be relieved of their duties to rescue their fellow miners.

But that's something to keep in mind, that all the rescuers who had been inside this mine for the last 10 days are miners who work for the mine. They've gone from being miners to being rescuers. And now they've gone through just two terrible tragedies.

MARCIANO: You know, when you talk about these bumps, we're reading more and we talk more about it to miners, mine safety experts. And they describe these bumps as being - well, I don't want to say an everyday occurrence - but something that happens in this sort of mining.

But you're telling me that when you were in there, you saw fear in the eyes of the miners, as if this was not an everyday occurrence.

TUCHMAN: No. I mean, it's not an everyday occurrence. It's not completely rare.

But the fact is, it was a bump of some kind that caused the initial cave-in. So they knew this mine is vulnerable.

They actually cancelled the rescue for two days last week, Tuesday and Wednesday, because there were so many bumps. No one was allowed in the mine. They had continued their vertical drilling, looking down in what are basically just - the holes that are put in the top of the mountain are basically peepholes, so they can put cameras and microphones and food down there to try to spot the miners.

But they can't rescue the miners through those holes. The only way to rescue the miners is the interior drilling, which we were witnessing, which was cancelled for two days.

And that's why I bring up this important point. And I think all of us are wondering, what's going to happen with the rescue effort.

Well, they cancelled it for two days when there was a fear there might be another cave-in. Now that there's been another cave-in and such tragedy has ensued with three people killed, you could pretty much rest assured that, for the time being, the effort inside the mine will be suspended, although they might continue drilling these small holes on the top of the mine to try to find out if these six miners are alive.

MARCIANO: Well, earlier tonight, Gary, that sentiment was echoed by the governor of Utah. We're going to talk to him in just a few seconds here.

Thank you for your insight. Have a safe trip back to Utah, and we'll look for your reporting on this deadly accident in Utah. Thanks, Gary.

CHETRY: And you spoke about the governor. We have him now on the phone.

Governor John Huntsman of Utah joins me this morning. You're at the mine location. Thanks for being with us. I know it's been a busy and sad night.

The rescue efforts have been suspended now, and so has the underground mining.

Are you planning on changing your position that this should cease? And if so, what do you need to hear from the Mine Safety Administration to make you change your mind?

JOHN HUNTSMAN, GOVERNOR OF UTAH (by phone): Well, first of all, thank you for having me on.

I'm calling from a real tough, resilient community. These are wonderful people. I've been with a good number of them here tonight, some of their leaders.

They want, of course, MSHA and those responsible for the rescue effort, to do everything possible. They know the dangers inherent in this business.

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

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

CHETRY: You know, you talk about it, and we've heard a lot about the inherent dangers in mining. This particular mine sits high in the mountainside - 1,800 feet above the mine is the mountainside.

And the nature of the location, as we've been learning, puts intense pressure on these pillars, the mesh and the bolts of the tunnel.

Is this particular type of mine and where it's situated inherently more dangerous?

HUNTSMAN: You know, not being a miner, I don't know the answer to that.

All I can tell you is that the conditions and the environment in which they are working - that is MSHA and the rescue teams - is really quite unprecedented. From what the MSHA people have said, they've never seen anything quite this deep before, which does add a level of complexity and danger, obviously, to this kind of operation.

Moreover, they've been experiencing these so-called "mountain bumps" that create structural problems as it relates to the mine. Nobody knows quite what the reason is for that, but that is adding, again, another layer of complexity. So, what you have is a very difficult and dangerous situation, evidenced by what was seen earlier this evening.

And the MSHA people - and all I can say in watching them do their job, is that they have all the technology they need. They've got the teams. They have the brains. They have everyone here on-site who could in any way lend or improve the effort ongoing.

And this has been a tragic situation. I mean, we have gone from basically a tragedy to a catastrophe tonight.

And all I can tell you as governor of this state is that the deaths that we have seen tonight will not be in vain, that we will somehow learn the lessons from the last week-and-a-half, and indeed what happened tonight, in making us better and smarter and safer - not just here in Utah, but throughout the country, and I hope beyond.

And I ask for Congress, and I ask for the regulators to take note of what is going on, to see if we can't all pull together and do something in terms of improving worker safety here.

CHETRY: And I don't doubt your sincerity for a moment. But it seems that we have flashes of urgency that then fade away from memory. I mean, after Sago and that mine disaster that claimed the lives of I believe 12, we heard the same things. And it seems like in this situation, you're fighting an uphill battle with Mother Nature. They were able to tunnel only 26 feet in an entire day of drilling yesterday.

Which brings me to the question, should other mines like this one, so deep and in precarious situations when it comes to the seismic activity, should simply be closed for good?

HUNTSMAN: You are dealing with the vagaries and the inconsistencies, the unpredictable nature of Mother Nature. There's no doubt about that.

We have seen disasters in 1900, 1924, 1984 and most recently in 2000. You'd like to see - you'd like to think that, with each passing year we get a little bit better than this. And most recently, of course, with the Sago disaster.

All I can say is, there's going to be a thorough investigation of what has happened here. We want to play a part in that as a state. We don't do mine safety, but I certainly want to hold, as governor, all options open in terms of what we as a state do going forward.

I, for one, will look forward to the results. And through it all, we need to become better as a state and as a country in terms of how we focus and dedicate our efforts toward workplace safety.

CHETRY: As we've watched this attempted rescue transpire over the last two weeks, are you any closer to figuring out what may need to change, specifically?

HUNTSMAN: I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess. There have been so many moving parts here, so many people doing their very, very best, I've got to tell you, despite the setback. And I've really got to hand it to these rescuers and these communities in doing everything humanly possible.

In terms of what we can learn, even during the short term, I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess. We're going to learn a whole lot when all the pieces are put together. And it would certainly be unfair of me to do anything prematurely or precipitously.

But the focus does have to be workplace and worker safety. There's no doubt about that. That has to be the driving theme as we go forward.

CHETRY: And we're talking about nine lives lost, nine people who had families, loved ones, children, parents in a very tight-knit community. You know the tragedy is growing by the day as we hear about these six others that are injured. Three of them are still in serious condition this morning.

Governor, how is the community holding up, and the families?

HUNTSMAN: Well, you mentioned nine. We're really looking at three. The families are hoping against hope that those in the mine are still very much alive. And we have to hold on to that hope. I was with some of the families earlier. I was with two of our mayors, with county commissioners. I have never seen a community come together like I've seen this one come together - hand-in-hand, arms around each other's shoulders, pulling together with a type of strength during a period of adversity that would make anyone proud to be governor.

And when I hear them say that it is through these kinds of situations that our communities - not just the families, but our communities - are going to be better and stronger over the long haul as we move into the future, that really does signal a most remarkable people who live here.

CHETRY: Governor, you're right. I misspoke. Nine people that were between the six injured and the three that died in the rescue effort.

But there are still six trapped miners, and you guys are operating under the assumption that they're still alive.

In fact, yesterday, some of the mine officials said that they still do have enough water, and the oxygen testing has shown that it's viable. They can breathe in there, if they are indeed, if they did indeed survive that initial blast.

With that being the case, what decisions need to be made as time is running out about whether or not it's safe enough to continue tunneling to get to them?

HUNTSMAN: Well, first of all, I think the underground efforts will have to be analyzed by MSHA. And I, for one, would not be in favor of anyone entering that unless certain levels of safety can be guaranteed.

Now, that leaves the drilling from the top. That very much continues, the fourth drill, from which we hope to learn something over the next 24 to 48 hours, drilling down in a cavern where it is thought that the environmental conditions are enough to sustain life.

And everyone is holding hope open that we learn something in the next day or two from this fourth drill, and if not that, then a fifth drill.

It seems to me that most of the information over the next little while that is important and useful, particularly to the families, will come from the above-ground drilling effort.

CHETRY: Just a heartbreaking day unfolding there in Utah. Governor John Huntsman at the scene, at Crandall Canyon mine, thanks for your time this morning.

HUNTSMAN: Thank you very much. A pleasure to be with you.

MARCIANO: Well, six of the nine rescue miners that were trapped last night are still alive. CNN's Kara Finnstrom is at Castleview Hospital, the closest hospital to the mine. She's been there all night long as the story has unfolded.

What can you tell us about the six injured, Kara?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT, HUNTINGTON, UTAH: Well, we are still hoping for an update on their condition. The last confirmed report we had was that three of those rescuers are being treated in the hospital right behind us. They have serious injuries.

We were told that one of the rescuers that was transported to this hospital - which is the closest hospital to the mine, it's about 45 minutes away - died shortly after arriving. That was one of the three deaths.

And then another one was transported by helicopter to Provo. Now, that's the closest level one trauma center that they could get them to.

This hospital here - a small, local hospital - they do have special training for treating miners. But they say they mainly deal with things like broken legs, minor head injuries, and things along those lines.

So, the serious head injuries they said that they were getting in here with some of these miners, they simply couldn't treat.

The other thing that we did see here overnight was, a lot of the families began getting word, a lot of the families in this community, of some of the rescuers, some of the miners that have been out there with this effort. And they started coming here to the hospital, because they didn't know who had been hurt, and they wanted the names. They wanted to know the condition of these nine that had been hurt in this latest accident.

So, at some point, the operators of the mine up on the hill asked all those involved with the rescue operation to just come down the hill and let their loved ones know what was going on and let them know that they were OK.

A very difficult night for everyone here. And obviously, tomorrow will be a very difficult day, as well, because now you have these six trapped miners that still remain there, and this community wanting very much to get in and bring them out. And just obviously, the incredibly dangerous conditions, which, at least for now, at least the governor is hoping will prevent anyone from going back into that mine.

MARCIANO: Kara Finnstrom live from Castleview Hospital. Thank you, Kara.

CHETRY: One mine worker said that he was outside of the mine when he heard a manager yelling about a cave-in. He tells us what he saw and what he heard, next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back. This is a special early edition of AMERICAN MORNING. We're following the latest out of Utah after word last night that three rescue workers were killed and six others injured as they were attempting to tunnel toward those six miners who are still missing from the initial collapse last week.

One mine employee was just getting off of his shift outside of the mine, when he says he heard a manager yelling about a cave-in. His name is Donnie Leonard, and he's telling us what he saw and what he heard, in his own words.


DONNIE LEONARD, MINE EMPLOYEE, CRANDALL CANYON MINE: I was off duty. I had just finished my shift and was leaving the bathhouse when Constay (ph) and all the bosses started yelling about a bounce that had happened, and a caved-in mine.

They knew about five miners that had been buried. And by the time we were leaving, one they had in their truck and was beginning CPR.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What else could you see in there? Were you seeing people pulled out of the mine?

LEONARD: No. We didn't actually get to see anybody pulled out of the mine. All we got to see was all the preparations and the rescue crews rushing in to get everybody out as fast as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what about you? Were you taken away from there? Or were you allowed to stay there as this crisis was happening over there?

LEONARD: Well, me and my cousin offered our help, but they said there was nothing we could do. We weren't trained for the situation, so we should just head home and wait it out and get rest for our next shift.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Don, you were you saying that you were working there. You were off-shift.

Did you experience any commotion inside the mines this afternoon, as well?

LEONARD: No. I was mostly just in the belt line doing stuff, like shoveling. I didn't really get that close to the face, since I'm not that an experienced a miner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you didn't - from what you were hearing this afternoon, there was no talk of other miners coming in and coming out, talking about bounces?

LEONARD: No. I was - we just stayed all busy. And when the shift was over, we left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you were hustled out before any ambulances, before any of these workers were able to come out.

LEONARD: Yes. We were told just to go home and wait it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This must be a tough experience for all of the rescuers out there, for those. How are you feeling right now, knowing that some of these folks are hurt because of the rescue attempts?

LEONARD: You know, it just makes you think about what you're doing in life, and, well, it could happen to you, and mining, how dangerous it is. And you're worried about all those other people, because of their families and what they're leaving behind.

It's just really hard to think about it.


MARCIANO: There's more to come on this breaking news event out of Utah. Three people dead, as you know, six hurt, as the attempt to rescue a group of trapped miners turns disastrous.

At the top of the hour, Brian Todd, Kara Finnstrom live from the scene. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the injuries to us.

We'll be right back.


CHETRY: Breaking news. Another cave-in at the mine in Utah. Three rescuers killed trying to reach the trapped miners.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every man that's on that mountain and in that mountain, they are all just - they're heroes.


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


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


CHETRY: And for anguished families.


LEONARD: You're worried about all those other people, because of their families and what they're leaving behind. It's really hard to think about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: The minute-by-minute developments live from the scene on this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.