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CNN BREAKING NEWS
West Virginia Miners Situation; Hatfield Press Conference; Governor Manchin Press Conference
Aired January 4, 2006 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously it is a scene of a lot of chaos and pandemonium. It seems they are trying to clear the road now. There are a number of ambulances which are just sitting on the road.
Let's go back to Randi Kaye. Randi, What are you hearing and seeing?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, again the scene continues here, a scene of just absolute shock.
We're here with Sam Lands (ph), who had a brother-in-law in side, and you were told just a few hours ago that there were twelve survivors. You believed your brother-in-law survived. Tell us now what you've learned and how hard this is.
SAM LANDS (ph), BROTHER-IN-LAW OF LOST MINER: They just had a meeting at the church, and they come in and told us they didn't have the good news that they thought they had, that the only survivor they had was the one that they took to the hospital, and I believe that they took him to Morgantown, to the university hospital.
KAYE: What was the scene in there? Were you just stunned, after learning --
LANDS: Everybody is stunned right now. Everybody is stunned and sickened at their stomach. We feel like we've been lied to. Feel like we've been lied to all along. I don't even know if the governor knew the truth or not. I think he was here, I think that he has done everything he could, and I don't even know if they told him the truth or not.
KAYE: Did they explain at all why they thought that there were twelve survivors?
LANDS: They just said that they were sorry that -- that's basically about it.
KAYE: And no explanation why they thought there were twelve survivors?
LANDS: They didn't say. I was up in the front of the church, and everyone started hollering and screaming, and I thought maybe something bad was happening. And they said there are twelve survivors, they called up and said -- someone called up and said there's twelve survivors. Of course, earlier they told us that there was one, that that one did survive.
KAYE: What did the people do, what was the reaction inside?
KAYE: Inside at the time. What did they say?
LANDS: It's horrible. I mean, the screaming and crying, and it's really horrible up there.
KAYE: Who made this announcement, was this the governor, or was this the --
LANDS: No, the mine officials made the announcement. I don't know what the guy's name is.
KAYE: From the ICG, the International Coal Group.
KAYE: And what did you think at this point -- I mean, because the last few hours --
LANDS: I'm sick at my stomach, I mean -- I thought I was going to pass out. I just -- I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. I called my wife and told her that Marty (ph) was fine, and I'd be home probably soon, and now this. I don't know what to think.
KAYE: This was your brother-in-law, Martin Bennett (ph) --
LANDS: Martin Bence (ph).
KAYE: -- who you believed was alive.
LANDS: We thought he was out. And now they tell us this.
KAYE: Where do you go from here? I mean, this has just been a stunning announcement.
LANDS: The only thing we can do, ma'am, is pray and try to keep the family together and hope for the best now. I don't know. This is a horrible thing. This is probably the most horrible thing that's ever happened to me in my lifetime.
KAYE: What was their mood when they came in -- it was very hush- hush here --
LANDS: They looked gloomy. When they come in, they were gloomy. I thought, well, you know, I'd heard earlier that they had taken one to the hospital, one. I thought, well, maybe, you know, he was sick and they was taking him for evaluation. And then they come in and they this off to us, and now I don't know.
KAYE: I'm sure, Sam, that you're hurting inside.
LANDS: I'm hurting bad right now. KAYE: Are you --
LANDS: And I come down here -- I'm very angry. I wanted to talk to the press. I think the press -- I think this needs to get out to the world, I think that someone -- we need some answers from someone. I don't know who.
KAYE: Did anybody ask questions? Did they try to get some answers in the church?
LANDS: They was screaming and hollering, and -- it was bad. It really was.
KAYE: Did the mining company try and answer some questions that were asked?
LANDS: There was so much confusion up there, I don't know if they answered any questions or not, to tell you the truth.
KAYE: Did everybody just run out of the church? We saw a lot of people coming down here in tears and angry.
LANDS: Well, no, there was a lot of them in there. I left because I was so upset. I just told my friend up there, I said, I'm going down and talk to the press. I'm going to get this back to the press.
KAYE: Have you told your wife yet? I know it's early in the morning.
LANDS: I haven't called her yet; she's probably in bed asleep. I don't even know if I could get in touch with her or not. I have a cell phone, but I can't get out on it, so --
KAYE: Oh, my goodness. That's just so awful.
LANDS: So, I live about an hour drive from here, so I don't know when I'll get to talk to her.
KAYE: Sam Lands (ph), I'm so sorry for your loss, and I know that your hopes were up just a few hours ago. And it's just going to be something to deal with for sure.
We hope you get some answers, and we hope we get some answers as well. Thank you.
LANDS: I hope so. I'll tell you what, I hope you people can get this out to the world.
KAYE: I think we are right now.
LANDS: And maybe somewhere someone will get some answers. And if I've done any good here --
KAYE: Thank you, Sam. Thank you. Anderson, this is just one of the many stories that we're seeing here. Sam Lands (ph) is one of the few that are willing to speak with the media about what just happened in Sago Baptist Church.
COOPER: The question is, how in god's name did this information get given to family members who have been waiting for two days now for word of their loved ones, and a company which has been very careful in what it told these people and what it told the media, and continually saying they didn't want to go down the road of speculation, to then go out and somehow get this information to family members that their loved ones were alive, when now they're being told their loved ones are in fact not alive, that there is only one survivor from this entire incident.
We are awaiting, as you see there, a press conference that is about to start from mine company officials.
It is just a stunning development that I don't think anyone could have possibly imagined at this point.
We are waiting -- any moment now -- for this press conference to begin. That is the general counsel for the ICG mine group, which purchased this mine just a short time ago. They are slowly setting up microphones. There is certainly a lot of explaining to do at this point. I mean, you hear about the fog of war, but this is not a war. This was a situation with 12 miners, 13 miners, where information has been very carefully given out and vetted over the last two days. It is simply a stunning and horrific development. And there are a lot of people leaving here who are simply furious, certainly have no interest in talking to the media, have no interest in talking to anyone. They feel betrayed, and certainly let down.
We have -- there are a number of -- okay, let's listen in.
BEN HATFIELD, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: I'd like to share a statement with you on the current status of the Sago Mine accident.
Around 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday evening, rescue teams succeeded in extending their search to the production face area of the second left section. At that location, they encountered a very rough barricade structure, with the 12 remaining miners that had been missing since the Monday morning explosion.
The initial report from the rescue team to the command center indicated multiple survivors, but that information proved to be a miscommunication.
The only confirmed survivor is Randal L. McCloy Jr., who has now been rushed to a local hospital in serious condition.
The 11 remaining miners in the barricade structure were determined by the medical technicians on the rescue to have already deceased.
Our hearts and prayers go out to each of the 13 families. We are incredibly saddened by the horrific loss of these fathers, sons, husbands and brothers.
A thorough investigation of the cause and circumstances of this terrible accident will be undertaken by federal and state mine regulatory officials with the full cooperation and support of International Coal Group.
This is certainly not the outcome that we had hoped for and prayed for. So, again, our hearts and prayers go out to the families.
With that, I'd be glad to take a few questions.
QUESTION: Sir, can you talk about why...
QUESTION: Can you explain what happened with the families?
The families were so excited. They had heard that there were survivors. They thought that they had gotten that word from the company itself.
HATFIELD: There was no such word from the company itself. We have taken great precautions to be sure that our numbers were right, that our times were right, that the information was correct when we make a statement.
What happened is that, through stray cell phone conversations, it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue team underground to the command center was picked up by various people that simply overheard the conversation, was relayed through cell phone communications without our ever having made a release.
International Coal Group never made any release about all 12 of the miners being alive and well. We simply couldn't confirm that at that point. But that information spread like wildfire because it had come from the command center. But it was bad information.
QUESTION: The fact that Mr. McCloy is hanging onto life, does that give you a sense that he -- and that there was a barricade structure -- does it look like these miners survived for a period of time and had air for a period of time?
HATFIELD: I think we can confirm with certainty that the miners survived for a period of time. They donned their self-contained breathing apparatus and went to what they believed to be a secure location, constructed a rough, very primitive barricade and survived for some period of time, but I don't have any way of knowing how long that was.
QUESTION: And then the carbon monoxide levels at the location where you found the miners, what was that level?
HATFIELD: I believe it was in the 300 to 400 parts per million range at the time that our rescue teams reached the barricade structure.
QUESTION: But do you believe that it might have been much higher at some point and...
HATFIELD: It's certainly possible that it was higher than that earlier during the process. This is not too far from the location of our first drill hole and, as you know from our sharing that information, the first drill hole encountered high levels of carbon monoxide.
QUESTION: Are you saying that first communication from the mine up to control was inaccurate, that there were multiple survivors?
HATFIELD: Yes, there was a miscommunication. And I don't know really on who's end it was, but there was a miscommunication that resulted in the command center believing they were told there were 12 survivors.
And apparently the intention on the part of the rescue teams was to confirm that they had 12 individuals and they were at that point checking vital signs trying to determine who was a survivor and who wasn't. And that was essentially the communication. It was an incomplete evaluation at the point that it went to the command center.
That information, of course -- because we all were looking for good information and anxious to share that information, someone -- I'm sure with good intentions -- picked up that bad information and spread it to friends and passersby, and it quickly got out of control.
QUESTION: Who was the person who made the announcement to the families in the church? Who was the specific person? Was there one person who went in and said, "There are 12 survivors"? And who was that?
HATFIELD: I have no idea who made that announcement, but it was not an announcement that International Coal Group had authorized, so I do not know.
QUESTION: Mr. Hatfield, our condolences as well. This is not the outcome that I don't think anyone around the country or around the world watching this story -- but, I guess my question is, is how come as soon as -- why didn't we hear that that information was wrong sooner?
QUESTION: Can you talk about that at all?
HATFIELD: Because we couldn't correct the information without knowing more about it.
At the point that we could have told you there was an issue, we did send word to the church or through police channels that there were some issues with the numbers; "We're trying to find out what's correct."
There was a great deal of confusion between the rescue teams that were, frankly, fighting valiantly to try to save lives and get these people to safe locations. These people were doing their level best and simply the information got misinterpreted or miscommunicated and it gave us a very bad result of raising hopes certainly beyond the level that they should have been raised.
QUESTION: Was there a clear radio signal?
HATFIELD: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: I said was there breakup or a clear -- I mean, I know how cell phone calls go when you're not above ground sometimes. Is it not really making out what they said when you say "miscommunication," or misunderstanding the information that was relayed?
HATFIELD: Again, to put it in perspective, even myself and the people that were with me in the building, at the command center, for a period of time believed that there were 12 survivors, because that was the initial communication that came to the command center.
But it was wrong. And I won't try to get into who misspoke, but it was wrong. And that certainly let us get excited and hopeful beyond the level, certainly, that we should have.
But, again to put it in perspective, three hours ago, or 10 hours ago, we would have been thrilled with the notion that there's one survivor, because at various times during the course of this rescue effort, we were faced with the bleak prospect that there would be no survivors.
So let's not discount the fact that Mr. McCloy has survived. His family has cause for celebration tonight despite our heartbreak that many families do not have that cause for celebration.
QUESTION: Who broke the news to the family?
HATFIELD: I broke the news to the family.
QUESTION: How did they react?
HATFIELD: Again, it's been our practice to always go to the family first with whatever information we have and then come to the media. I broke that information to them -- the update -- about 45 minutes ago.
QUESTION: Mr. Hatfield, how long was that period of time between when you all thought you had 12 survivors and you did come to the realization that it was not the case?
HATFIELD: I would estimate it at somewhere in the 20-minute range -- 15 to 20 minutes, perhaps longer.
QUESTION: Sir, has Mr. McCloy been able to give you any information at all as to about a time frame as to when some of these survivors were still alive?
HATFIELD: I do not believe he has been able to communicate.
He's been, at different points, conscious and groaning. So he's at least active. But I don't have any information that would indicate he's able to communicate. QUESTION: But is there any clue that some of these miners had physical injuries as well from the explosion, or was it all, does it look like it was all, monoxide poisoning at this point?
HATFIELD: Well, again, we had two different situations.
We had the one victim that was found earlier that we reported. And that victim appears to have been fatally injured by the explosion itself, the combustion of the explosion. And I wouldn't say "burned," but a significant impact, percussion or concussion impact.
The miners in the barricade, just from very brief information that we've received from the rescue teams, their injuries seem to be related to the carbon monoxide poisoning.
QUESTION: Can you describe the barricade a little more? And how close were the 12 (inaudible) how would you describe that?
HATFIELD: I don't have that specific information.
They were essentially located in one entry that was boxed in by one large piece of ventilation curtain, as we call it in the mining business. So they essentially stretched a temporary piece of ventilation fabric across the entry, which is about 20 feet wide, and boxed themselves in against the actual mine face, the actual production face, for the two left section.
QUESTION: Any indication whether we're talking minutes or hours between the time that these trapped miners passed away and by the time the rescue crews got to them? Is it too soon to tell that?
HATFIELD: We simply don't know.
You know, perhaps the investigation will tell us more about that.
HATFIELD: But we do not have a feel for how soon someone might have passed away versus, of course, Mr. McCloy continuing to cling to life.
And we're very encouraged and hopeful that he will recover, but we don't know what the pace of deterioration might have been.
QUESTION: How do you pick up and go on from here and try to maintain morale among the workforce of your company?
HATFIELD: All we can do is our best.
We are hardworking people that count on good people to do their job. And we believe we attract skilled miners that want to make this company successful. We want to make this company successful. And so we will do all we can to motivate efforts to that end.
But the people that work for this company and know us, know the management team and know that our intentions are to do the right thing and to protect our people as best we can in what is a fairly dangerous business. So we will learn something from the investigation, certainly, as to what went wrong. At this point, we still do not know what went wrong and what caused this explosion.
So whatever we learn from that investigation will certainly be used to improve our training, our safety procedures. Any piece of this awful accident that can be converted to a beneficial cause going forward, we want to make full utility of it.
QUESTION: Did you speak to the governor's office to confirm any of this information? Did the governor's office call you and say, "We have heard that there may be survivors"?
When did that conversation occur, if in fact it did occur?
HATFIELD: The governor's office has staff on-site. And so they essentially get the communications about the same time we do.
Their people are -- again, because there are state regulatory agencies involved in the command center, he hears the information about as quickly as we do.
So we didn't have to tell him that it was right or wrong. He heard what we had heard. And we all had the same unfortunate bad information for a short period of time.
QUESTION: So suffice to say, the governor may have reasonably thought and made the assumption that these guys were alive.
HATFIELD: I think he would certainly be communicating the good news in anticipation that is correct, because the people in the command center believed it was correct. And so we all celebrated the wonderful victory and what we thought to be the safe delivery of our employees.
QUESTION: What was the distance in the mines where the miners were located, how many feet in? And how far was that from (inaudible)?
HATFIELD: They were at the production face in the second left section. So that's essentially all the way in, where the mining would have begun if the crew had actually started work on that morning.
The distance from the portal is roughly 13,000 feet, again, approximately that depth.
QUESTION: Just in the name of clarity, because it's been a night of so much confusion, it sounds as if you're saying that the initial transmission or telephone call or whatever it was from a rescue team to you, that the messenger, the person in the rescue team, miscommunicated. Is that accurate?
HATFIELD: I have no interest in finger-pointing, again, because these are people that risked their lives to save lives. And we are not going to try to single anyone out for having misspoke or jumped to an optimistic conclusion. And I don't want to go down that road at all.
But I will just tell you, very honestly, that what happened was a miscommunication from the rescue team that's underground, 13,000 feet, working on these miners, trying to confirm that they're alive.
There was a miscommunication between that point and the command center. And then the command center shared that information with me.
The command center includes federal authorities, state authorities and company managers as well; a committee that's managing this process to try to get our people out of this terrible situation as safely and as quickly as we can.
So that's where the source of the information was. But we're not going to point fingers.
QUESTION: I understand, sir. But did everybody hear the same thing? I guess that is what -- in other words, this is an open speaker and everybody thought they heard the same thing?
HATFIELD: Yes, it's an open speaker. It's essentially a mine phone, which is a loud communication and the common means of communicating with a deep underground mine situation.
So it's audible to most people that are anywhere in the proximity of the command center.
QUESTION: How did the message come through that the information had been miscommunicated?
Can you talk about how the mood changed inside the command center once you realized that it wasn't totally viable?
What was the timetable?
HATFIELD: I'm guessing that it was approximately, again, 15 to 20 minutes. And I had gone into the command center myself, frankly, to celebrate and see what I could do to accelerate the safe delivery of our people from the barricade and to get medical supplies in to them. We had immediately secured medical personnel, medical supplies, anticipating that they needed water and various medical attentions. And we were putting those people and those supplies onto transportation to get them underground, to get medical attention to these folks that we believed to be alive at that point.
And I was personally sitting in the command center when the corrected communication came across. And it simply said something to the effect that, "There was an error in the previous communication. We have 12 individuals, but they are not all alive. It appears that one is alive, living or deceased." That was the nature of the corrected communication.
And the honest answer is we were devastated. It's sorrow beyond belief.
QUESTION: Do you believe the miners' bodies have been removed? Has a temporary morgue been set up somewhere at this point in time?
HATFIELD: I'm not certain of those arrangements. That communication has been handled essentially by people that are working in the command center. But I can't give you the specifics.
But there has been a plan put in place for a temporary morgue to bring the bodies out and assure proper handling and respectful handling for the benefit of the families.
QUESTION: Have you heard any of the bodies have been removed at this point?
HATFIELD: They, to my knowledge, have not been brought put at this point. But that process is under way.
QUESTION: (inaudible) any more meetings that you want to have with the families? Or what goes on from now? I know that the church area is (inaudible) at this point.
HATFIELD: It's a very emotional time. The employees' families are grief-stricken and, frankly, angry. And I'm not surprised or upset with them because they certainly have some basis for their frustration, having been put through this emotional roller coaster.
I wouldn't wish that on anyone. I regret that it's happened.
HATFIELD: I would do anything had it had not happened.
QUESTION: Sir, we can see disappointment in your face. What was it like to talk to those families?
HATFIELD: It's beyond belief. Welcome to the worst day of my life. It's tough.
QUESTION: Sir, I'm from the Herald Dispatch in Huntington, West Virginia. We're just close to your Ashland headquarters and we're also near your new headquarters in Sky Depot (ph). What do you tell the people of Boyd, Cabell, Putnam Counties tomorrow about your company?
HATFIELD: We are a strong, well-managed, financially secure company that has the finest growth potential in the entire coal industry. We are disappointed by the accident here at Sago mine. We are saddened by the loss of our employees. But the Sago mine is but a small piece of the production and the activity and the people that comprise International Coal Group.
And we are going to continue to be a successful company. We're going to learn from the accidents that occur and the mistakes that occur and get stronger with every effort.
We are going to do well and prosper. And I remain confident in that growth.
QUESTION: Should they be concerned about your communications skills? HATFIELD: I don't think so.
QUESTION: Sir, if I may, we certainly are already hearing from families who are angry. As you said, you understand their anger.
But they want to know why -- if you knew within 20 minutes that there had been a terrible mistake, why were they allowed to celebrate for two to three hours until that was conveyed to them?
HATFIELD: Let's put this in perspective: Who do I tell not to celebrate? I didn't know whether the number of dead people was 12 or one. All I knew is that there weren't 12 people that were alive and it's something between 12 and zero.
And so until we had people that could measure the vital signs, communicate specifics about the condition of the employees, we did not want to put the families through yet another roller coaster of, "Well, some of them are dead, some of them aren't." We couldn't go there. There's been too much emotional punishment already.
QUESTION: Sir, do any of those victims have other family members that also work employed in this mine?
HATFIELD: This is a close-knit community. And, sadly, yes, many of our employees, even our managers, have family members that are victims of this accident. Indeed the mine superintendent, the top management personnel for the Sago mine, his uncle is one of the fatalities that we're mourning today.
QUESTION: In the mining industry, how do you go back to go mine after something like this and do that job? Maybe that's a dumb question but it just seems -- how do you get over that fear?
HATFIELD: Well, in the first place, coal miners are a tough breed. They're survivors. They're proud, hardworking West Virginians and they deal with hardship and deal with it better than I think than many other people do.
But the coal industry has consistently become a safer business, a much better business, a prosperous business over the last two decades. And it's become an area of growing promise and technological improvements and improvements in safety. So all that brings us to the position that accidents such as we've encountered here at the Sago mine are remarkably unique in this industry.
Twenty years ago, these were not at all uncommon, but today it's a major event because it is so rare. And we are determined to make them even more rare in our business.
But we believe that our employees will return, and those that enjoy the business and enjoy the benefits of the income and the health care and all those things that coal miners enjoy -- they enjoy this community -- I think those people will continue to work in this business. And we hope they do.
QUESTION: Good luck to you. HATFIELD: Thank you.
QUESTION: Our condolences, again.
HATFIELD: All right.
If we get any more information, we'll give you another update. But at this point, you should not anticipate any further information until tomorrow morning.
QUESTION: What time?
HATFIELD: We haven't set a time because I'm not sure what the timing's going to be. But I think we can target giving you an update around 10:00 or 10:30 as to the status of the body removal and whatever else is going on.
QUESTION: Can you read your initial statement again, just for some of us who got here late? Because I know some of us were stuck in traffic, trying to get up.
HATFIELD: OK. I will read the statement again for benefit of everyone having the numbers and the information.
Around 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday evening, rescue teams succeeded in extending their search to the production face area of the second left section. At that location, they encountered a very rough barricade structure with the 12 remaining miners that had been missing since the Monday morning explosion.
The initial report from the rescue team to the command center indicated multiple survivors, but that information proved to be a miscommunication.
The only confirmed survivor is Randal L. McCloy Jr., who has now been rushed to a local hospital in serious condition. The 11 remaining miners in the barricade structure were determined by the medical technicians on the rescue team to have already deceased.
Our hearts and prayers go out to each of the 13 families. We are incredibly saddened by the horrific loss of these brothers, fathers, sons and husbands.
A thorough investigation of the cause and circumstances of this terrible accident will be undertaken by federal and state mine regulatory officials with the full cooperation and support of International Coal Group.
QUESTION: Is it fair to say the families have had a worse day then you? You said, "Welcome to my worst day."
HATFIELD: I think it's safe to assume that there are 13 families who have had a worse day than me -- 12 at least. COOPER: You have been listening to an extraordinary news conference about what has been a horrific and extraordinary evening here. It is hard to put into words the range of emotions that we have seen played out over the last five hours or so, right here behind us.
At approximately 11:49 p.m., we were given word by a family member who came rushing down here that they had just received word that the 12 miners were alive. It had earlier been confirmed that one miner was found dead. That family member, like all of the other family members, believed, though no one can seem to specify exactly who told them that initial information.
The closest we've been able to ascertain is that one of the family members told us that someone came down from the mine, they said, or the mine area, saying that the 12 were alive. The church bells began to ring, all the family members inside believed that the 12 miners were alive.
The governor, who was in the church at the time, stood up and was applauding, came out, gave the thumbs up, and said "miracles do happen." And then we were awaiting a press conference for -- we were told it would be soon. Then the hours started to tick by and still there was no press conference from the company.
Then at approximately 2:46 a.m., a woman who we had earlier spoken to, a neighbor who lives just up here who just came down to take part in the joyful celebration, came running down here to tell us that, in fact, the mine officials had just shown up and the governor had just shown up and they said that there had been a terrible mistake, and that in fact only one miner had survived and all the other miners had died.
She was obviously upset. She said there were fights going on in the church. People were yelling. We have now seen a parade of family members just leaving here, disgusted, upset, furious at just about everyone. They feel that they have been lied to, and what the company official, CEO of the company, termed a "miscommunication."
That is basically the explanation they have given, that there was a miscommunication somewhere between the rescue workers and the coordinating center. Somehow they understood that 12 had survived when it fact that had not been the case.
The company, in their own defense, says, well, it was not an official pronouncement that the 12 people had survived. The news -- someone from the coordinating center must have called up a family member of somebody down at the church and gave them word that everyone was alive, which was a mistake.
The company though, did not come out immediately and say we cannot confirm the 12 people are alive. The company did not come out and say anything for several hours, though from that press conference, we have just learned the company knew about 20 minutes after the initial euphoria -- the company knew about 20 minutes after that that in fact 12 people had not survived. What the company president has just said is that they didn't know the exact numbers, so that is why they didn't come forward to sort of dampen the euphoria. They said the families had been on enough of an emotional roller coaster that they didn't want to put them through another one by coming forward with imprecise information.
So they just for some -- the last three hours, basically, allowed the families to believe, and the media to believe, and everyone to believe -- the police who were here, the rescue workers who were here -- that the miners were alive, when in fact they have known all this time that some mistake was made somewhere along the line.
We are awaiting -- we are told the governor will now be making a statement at some point -- some point soon. We do not known exactly when. We, of course, are going to bring that to you live. We have seen a number of police vehicles moving up in the direction of the mine. There are a number of very angry people here, and I can tell you a few of them have told me off camera there has been talk -- a lot of just -- a lot of very aggressive talk about what they would like to do to the mine officials in this area.
It is a bizarre and horrific scene here, one that I don't think any of us could have imagined. Randi Kaye is standing by with me. You were down there. I mean, when the woman came up at around 2:46 or 2:47 to say that they were all gone except for one miner ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're all liars. The whole bunch of them -- they're liars!
COOPER: They're liars.
KAYE: This is the scene at the Baptist church where we've been the last hour ...
COOPER: So a car just pulled up, some family members who are leaving, saying "they're all liars, they're all liars." You heard it straight from us.
KAYE: It is just so awful over there just talking to these people whose hopes were raised and then dashed ...
COOPER: The question is -- I mean, there are a number of specific questions that we don't have answers to that we need answers to. Who was it? How was word sent to that church that these miners were alive?
COOPER: I mean, the officials, the company officials are saying someone in the coordinating center overheard something and misunderstood something and must have called a family member who was down at the church.
KAYE: Right. Well, I can tell you this. I just spoke with Tom Hunter, who is one of the governor's spokespeople, and I asked him, did your office ever confirm that 12 of these miners were alive? And they're somewhat backing off. They're saying that we never confirmed that 12 miners were alive.
All we said was that they had found -- "they had located the miners" -- these are Tom Hunters words. "We had located the miners. We were assessing their medical condition, and we would report back soon." He is now saying that they never confirmed -- and this is really important to say ...
COOPER: But the governor was in the church at the time and, according to other family members who were there, the governor stood up and was applauding and was euphoric ...
KAYE: Yes, and a miracle ...
COOPER: ... and came out giving a thumbs up saying "miracles do happen."
KAYE: This is just his spokesperson on the scene saying they never actually said the words "all 12 were alive." It was his feeling that they were reacting to the word from the rescue crews 13,000 deep into that mine saying ...
COOPER: What I don't understand and what the family members that I've talked to certainly do not understand is that why, if the company knew after some 20 minutes of this initial euphoria that some sort of mistake had been made -- they didn't know the level of the mistake, but some sort of mistake had been made. Why in God's name did they wait three hours to tell ...
KAYE: To tell ...
COOPER: ... to tell family members?
KAYE: And I have to say, there was something that wasn't right over there at the church scene. After celebrating with the family members, we were waiting at the base of the face of the coal mine, and we saw the one ambulance come down. As you know, it passed right by. You got the information about who it was or that he had been taken to the local hospital and his condition.
And then there was a lot of waiting and there was a lot of gloomy faces among some of the EMS crews. We saw one fireman come down. I tried to speak with him. He was disrobing a little bit. He had been obviously working pretty hard, and he would not say a word and his face was very grim.
And there was just a very unsettling feeling over there that maybe it wasn't as good as they had initially thought. I tried to talk to some of the state police; they wouldn't talk. It was just a very -- somewhat of an alarming situation after all that joy.
COOPER: And I mean, we're able really to only confirm what public officials tell us or what local people are telling us. And everyone here was indicating that. I mean, there was no way for us to independently verify that we weren't allowed up to the face of the mine, so we weren't allowed to see the bodies ... KAYE: And when you have the governor inside the church calling it a miracle based on what the rescue crews are saying, I mean, obviously they can only go on what the rescue crews were reporting, and unfortunately, that was a terrible mistake and a terrible miscommunication, but why they held that information is an even bigger issue.
COOPER: I mean, this is going to be analyzed and looked over very carefully and should be, because it is just -- I'm at a complete loss for words.
KAYE: There was actually a psychologist over there at the church, Anderson, and he was talking with some of the families, and they're going to need that. I mean, they're going to need some help to see them -- I mean, you saw some of them driving by here. They're so angry and they're so confused and somewhat numb. I mean, many of the other relatives are going to bed tonight thinking that their family members survived and really ...
COOPER: Much of the United States has gone to bed tonight thinking the best and is going to wake up tomorrow morning ...
KAYE: Sure, and see the worst.
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by. The governor is having a press conference, so let's listen.
GOV. JOE MANCHIN, WEST VIRGINIA: ... onto one miracle. We knew that our odds were not in our favor to begin with, but yet, we still believe in those miracles, and we were hoping for the best. With that, I was in the church, as most of you know, with the family, and all of a sudden we heard families in a euphoric state, if you will, and all the shouting and screaming and joyfulness.
And I asked my detachments, and I said, "Do you know what's happening?" because we were wired in and we didn't know. And we just -- we stood up and we said, "What's happening?" And they kept saying, "Twelve are alive. Twelve are alive."
MANCHIN: And I looked at my detachment again, I said, "Have we confirmed that? Is that confirmed from ours? Do we know that?" And we didn't. So we're going out with the sea of people at the time, and I'm in a euphoric state the same as they are. My goodness, who can imagine?
So we go outside and I get in the car and I want to go up to the mine site, the portal if you will, and we want to find out. And about 20 minutes later we hear that there are some confusions, and with those confusions, misinformation and in the state of the rescue operation that all this is coming about.
Then they bring the one person who we believe is our miracle person -- do everything to bring that person out of the mine and take him to the hospital; and now moving on to Ruby Hospital, as I'm understanding. And then we're hearing that there's very little hope for the 11 others that they found at the same time. And I'm, the same as you and everyone else, wondering what could have happened. "How could this happen, the miscommunication?"
And everybody's not for sure. "Are we sure that all 11 didn't make it? Is it a possibility that we have one or two or three more? Does anyone really know?"
And we're trying to get information, trying to make sure that we're able to take care of the one that we knew survived. And the rescue squads are doing everything humanly possible. So that was moving forward.
And changing out the teams to put fresh teams back in to make sure they can go back. And that's where I understand they are at this point in time.
But the rescue teams that had gone in said that there was little chance and very little doubt that there was any survivors. They did thorough checking, and those were the informations that I have received.
MANCHIN: And about the confusion, I can't tell you of anything more heart-wrenching that I've ever gone through in my life. Nothing.
QUESTION: Governor, can you talk a little bit about when that was clarified and you realized what was going on, when you talked with the families, were you having to explain this to the families as well, that there was miscommunication?
MANCHIN: As you know, the company has been working and coming down and they would go to the families first and come up here and brief you all. And then I would fill in and go talk to the families and see if they had any questions or misunderstandings, doing everything humanly possible to make sure they had the latest information.
With all that being done and talking to the families, I went back when they told them of this horrendous situation that we have, but still with one miracle that we still have.
And with that being done, I talked to the family. You can imagine the emotional situation that they're dealing with, and I sure can. I tried to console as much as humanly possible, talked to them, stayed and -- to comfort -- that's my main concern now is to comfort the family and to make sure that do everything humanly possible in this state of West Virginia we never will accept losing one miner, and that's our goal. And we will do everything to work toward that.
QUESTION: Governor, where's your responsibility in this communication breakdown?
MANCHIN: Again, I think I heard a little bit of the gentleman speaking before.
To put blame on anybody -- it's the wrong time, wrong place. Everyone's worked so hard. The rescue teams have worked around the clock. They've come from all over the country. They're working with tremendous equipment on, total mask, almost in darkness, if you will, doing everything they possibly can to locate.
MANCHIN: The unusual situation that we had in the mine from the beginning, thinking where our explosion would be, I knew that our odds were long against us that we would find the miners. But I had that hope, still always had that hope. I had that dream of a miracle, which -- I believe in miracles, especially in West Virginia.
And when they told me, they said, "You're not going to believe what had happened. We turned the corner two left and we found the jeep (ph) or tram car," if you will, which they ride back on, "and it was empty and it was intact."
And everyone just had so much hope and I had so much hope, because we knew that 12 people got off of that tram and they were doing what they had been taught and trained with their skills.
And with that, then safety enters it. From the standpoint of the rescue teams, you can't put them in harm's way. And that's why they progressed as rapidly as they could, and they do everything in a safe environment they can. Finding out that the explosion happened somewhere no one expected, in the old sealed-off mine.
And when mining, when you seal a mine off it's like putting that block wall, that's done. There's no activity behind it.
What caused it, no one knows. And they will find out.
With that being said, these miners probably tried to gravitate to where they were trying to exit the mine, because their apparatus gives them time to do that. And I'm told when that didn't happen, because they ran into where -- coming out where that explosion happened, they went back and did what else they were taught to do, which was...
QUESTION: For those of us who just came in, can you just explain again how miscommunication has occurred?
MANCHIN: I can't make excuses for anybody because I really don't know and I'm sure not going to blame anybody. Everyone's worked so hard. And I know their heart. And this is heart-wrenching for everybody. And I've said before it's the most heart-wrenching thing that's ever happened to me that I've seen happen.
We have one miracle, and we're very, very happy about the one miracle. We were hoping for 13 miracles. With that, I only -- rather than repeat myself, said that I was with the families when all of a sudden I heard in the other room, in the congregation area, a lot of the families start clapping and screaming. And my people, my communications people, had heard nothing and there was no confirmation. And so I can't tell you where that...
QUESTION: Who made the announcement that the miners were alive?
MANCHIN: I can't tell you that.
QUESTION: A representative of ICG, right?
MANCHIN: I really can't.
I was with -- I wasn't up at that mine site. I was with the families. I was sitting with families and speaking to family members in those two rooms in the church, and when one room broke out in euphoria, and everyone's saying, "What happened? What happened?"
So we ran in there. And that's when someone said, "They found them. They're alive." And I looked at our communications people and I looked at my security and said, "Have we even had that confirmed? Do we know anything about this?" And they said, "No." And I said, "Where is it coming from?"
Well, by that time, there was a stampede to the door. The church bells start ringing. And I'm caught up in the euphoria also, and we all go out. And I said, "I better go up there and find out."
Well, it was about 20 minutes later, as I said, and that's when we heard that there was some wrong advice, or wrong communications, and they tried to get accurate communication, and that's why the time element, from what I'm told.
QUESTION: You mentioned about being in a position to do something about those families sitting in the position that you sat in back in Farmington. How is this going to affect your legislative agenda in the state of the state that's coming up, because you're in the position to do something about that? Can you talk about that?
MANCHIN: I've done everything I can in my power. I've been doing everything I can. I've been here day and night. And there's no one that feels this pain, other than the families, more than I do, and I think they know that.
I was here because I've been through it. I've lost a family member in a situation like this. I was there for days with no communication, and I never wanted that to happen. So I tried to do everything that I could. But there's people -- the professionals in the rescue operation, there are professionals in the mining operation that are doing the job that they're supposed to be doing.
QUESTION: ... took so long for the families to be told the real story?
MANCHIN: Pardon me?
QUESTION: Why did it take so long for the families to be told the real story?
MANCHIN: We're trying to get confirmed information so they don't have misinformation more. And that is a very... QUESTION: Did you confirm the rescue of the 12 miners to the Associated Press center (ph) down there? I've heard one report one time that (inaudible).
MANCHIN: I was coming down there and I said, "Miracles do happen."
QUESTION: Did any member of your staff or...
MANCHIN: Let me just, right here first. I'm sorry.
QUESTION: What did the families have to say to you after...
MANCHIN: The families -- you know, what would you say? I mean, when you think about it, how would you feel? The agony that I have and the heart-wrenching feelings that I have could only be multiplied by many, many times of those family members.
And I understand and I feel -- I just want them to know that I'll do anything I can and I'm there to help them, and we will continue to do that.
Everybody that understands the mining situation, with the readings that we've been getting on carbon monoxide, everybody that understands -- from mining families -- that we were in difficult situations. We were long odds. And they had accepted the first body that we had found, and knowing that we were still in a recovery mode, a rescue mode, if you will -- rescuing -- and we were doing everything humanly possible to rescue, and they stayed in that mode. And these are brave people, very brave people, that work in these extreme conditions.
And I don't know if there's words in the dictionary that can describe the feelings that everyone has at this time. Still, I want to reiterate that we are very blessed to have one miracle, a miracle that a lot of people didn't expect would happen.
QUESTION: Governor, was there anybody either on your staff or in a government role that confirmed to you at any point in those 20 minutes that, "Yes, we have successfully found these 12 people alive"?
MANCHIN: The confirmation basically -- it's the transmission of information is what goes on. You have people back 13,000, 15,000 feet in the mountainside communicating, I guess, with -- and it's extreme conditions with their full masks, full apparatuses. And then there's a team of the professionals -- not our teams but the professional mine rescuers -- that are listening at the mine site.
MANCHIN: And I can't sit here and tell you -- I can tell you no one intended, no one made that intention.
QUESTION: But the miscommunication happened between those people who were...
(CROSSTALK) MANCHIN: It had to be a miscommunication, misinterpretation, something. I don't think that anyone would have said, if something was different than what they found -- then was it misunderstood in a horrific situation.
QUESTION: Do you know miscommunication happened between the people deep in the mine...
MANCHIN: By the time that information got out, however it was turned around by the people on the outside of the mine from what they heard on the inside or thought they heard, all of a sudden the people in the church heard it, because we didn't hear it and none of my people could confirm it.
So it came from somewhere and I can't -- you know, to sit here and try to put blame or make someone at fault is not what this is about. This is about a heroic effort and the extreme conditions, with one miracle survivor, and I was hoping for 13.
QUESTION: But the idea, Governor, that a lot of broadcasts attributed the misinformation directly to you, I guess that's the nature of the question that they're asking you about. Can you talk about that?
MANCHIN: And I can't, really.
I applaud you. You do a very wonderful job and it's a very difficult job. And I can't speak for how it was communicated by the media. I really can't. I can only tell you what I knew, when I knew it, and what the facts were.
QUESTION: We had reporters on the air saying they had firsthand conversations with you. Can you talk about that? And do you remember speaking with one individual reporter from any network or...
MANCHIN: After -- are you talking... QUESTION: ... saying, "There's 12 people alive"?
MANCHIN: You're talking about after.
QUESTION: Coming out of the church or at any point.
LARA RAMSBURG, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR'S OFFICE: No -- excuse me.
MANCHIN: Lara Ramsburg's our communications director.
RAMSBURG: All I can say is this: That we were asked if we were hearing reports that you all were hearing. And at the time we were. However, we said, "We have not confirmed anything."
And that's why the governor went to the site to make sure that we could get the accurate information and that we were hearing what you were hearing, because we were, and we were at the site hearing that, as well. But we needed to confirm it and we needed to get the details. And we did say, "That's why the governor's there, is to get the accurate information and see where we are from there."
QUESTION: You went to the mine site directly after hearing this...
MANCHIN: When I walked out of the church, I walked out of the church because I asked Jimmy (ph) and I said, "Is that confirmed to us?" He says, "No, it's not."
I said, "Where is it coming from? We're hearing everyone" -- you heard and you saw the same thing I saw. So we go out with the people, and I said, "Well, let's go. Let's go to the mine site and make sure we can confirm this." And that's when we got in the car.
Well, I'm as euphoric as everyone else. I wanted to believe. And everyone was at the mine site (inaudible) and we go up there, and within 20 minutes we hear that -- then there's a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, whatever it may be.
To say that anyone's to blame -- I know no one intended -- I don't know how that could have happened, and I'm not here to make excuses.
QUESTION: So the only thing you said to the reporter was, "Miracles do happen."
MANCHIN: When I was driving in the car and someone said -- and they looked and I rolled down the window and they said -- I'm as happy as they are. Bells were ringing and we were all happy. And someone looked and I said, "Yes, miracles do happen."
QUESTION: And that's how it was, quote, "confirmed" by the governor?
MANCHIN: That I don't know. See, I can't speak for you all. I really don't know.
RAMSBURG: He did not talk to any reporters...
RAMSBURG: ... after getting in the car and going to the site.
QUESTION: What excited the people in the first place?
MANCHIN: That, I don't -- I don't know who...
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... ringing the bell and screaming...
MANCHIN: No, no, no.
QUESTION: ... and coming out cheerfully.
MANCHIN: Somehow someone got a phone call or a cell phone -- I can't tell you that. I really don't know. We were sitting there with family members in the area, which is right beside the congregational area.
QUESTION: Family members are now suggesting that it was someone from your staff.
MANCHIN: No, that's not correct.
MANCHIN: Not from our staff.
RAMSBURG: The governor was inside. The governor was in the church with the family members. The bells started ringing. The family members were hearing from, we assume a cell phone call; we don't know.
At the same time, I was getting information that we needed to get up to the site because they might have new information. I came down to get the governor, get the governor in his car to make sure we got there so he could be on the ground to get the accurate information. And I think that's where some confusion lies.
But in no time did we confirm it because we didn't know. But in all honesty, we were hearing the same thing you were hearing. We just needed to get up there and...
MANCHIN: Let me say this, if I may, to all of you.
I would hope that your support and your prayers to the families that need it would be there, I really do. I would hope that your prayers will be with our one miracle person. And has now been transported to Ruby, which is our -- in Morgantown, our large hospital center. And hope that all goes well for him and his family.
MANCHIN: And we're going to be there to support the families, I can assure you of that.
QUESTION: Governor, what's the lesson for not just the administration but for the other people standing in this room right now, who bought in to those earlier reports without the second confirmation? What do you think, your thoughts on that?
MANCHIN: Well, this has been an emotional roller coaster for everybody involved. I think for you all as well as the families involved. And you've seen it, you've lived with it for two or three days now. And there are no easy answers to that.
And people are looking and clinging. They're clinging for every word, for every hope, for every gesture. They cling for that.
They know they were against long odds. They understand the situation when you have one and a half hours of breathing apparatus, 30 hours have gone by. It's truly a miracle that we're hoping and praying for; they know that.
And we keep reiterating that, being realistic as we are. But also, I still had hope, because I know that these things can happen. And hopefully that miracle would have happened. We do have one miracle. I'm so thankful for the good Lord that we had that one miracle. I would have liked to have had 13. That was not the case today.
QUESTION: When you arrived at the mine shaft opening, though, people were saying, "We think, our best guess is that we've got 12 live people"?
MANCHIN: The people at the top that were getting the communications or however they were interpreting it, that's what they actually believed. So wherever the phone call, not faulting anyone: That's exactly what was believed at that time.
We only -- our staff does not communicate anything. We hear and listen back and forth. They would tell me what's happening from the professionals that are working together.
And how that happened, you know, I can only say again, you've got eight teams of professionals that are risking their lives to hopefully save other lives. And they've been working around the clock. You have people who've been working around the clock outside in support roles, everyone.
MANCHIN: And I think each one of them will tell you that this is the most horrific situation that they've ever been in.
QUESTION: Are you going to be conducting an inquiry into this?
MANCHIN: Oh, we most certainly -- absolutely. I can assure you that -- because anything that we were led to believe by the professionals that might have happened and caused; found out that it wasn't that, that was completely different. So we have to find out what had happened because it happened in an area behind a complete sealed wall that had no activity at all. And those seals blew clear into the mine. That means the explosion started behind. It could've been a rock fall, it could've been a lightning strike. There are so many assumptions that people are coming to and that's wrong also.
We will find out the exact cause and we will leave no stone unturned. And our goal is to have not one fatality in the state of West Virginia.
QUESTION: Governor, what do you know about the families now, where they are? Where are the families now? Are they still at the Baptist church? And are you planning to go back there?
MANCHIN: I would assume that most of the family members were leaving at that time. And I know they were leaving at the time that we were leaving. I stayed and talked to them, and they've started to leave at that time.
QUESTION: Are the families placing blame on one specific party? MANCHIN: The hurt that you're seeing from the family is the high and the low. You know, getting information that was not correct and then clinging to that with all of their might. And finding out that there was an error and then finding out the facts were not what they had thought or definitely not what we all wanted to be.
I don't know how you explain that or how you transmit that. I mean, it's just sheer gut-wrenching.
And with that, most of them understand in the mining industry that we were against -- and, you know, I keep saying against long odds. They knew the odds of what we were dealing with. We were dealing with an explosion. With an explosion there has to be some kind of ignition. And for something to ignite, you have to have fuel to have that explosion. They know all of these things. And they knew their air levels -- the readings were not good because all the rescue squad workers were using breathing apparatuses as they moved back into the areas trying to find the miners.
They had known that. And that was given to them this morning.
MANCHIN: And I think you all were briefed on that.
That the information was not good. It was not what they wanted to see. But it was factual as what they had.
So everyone was transmitting what they had had factual information up until that time.
QUESTION: Is there any indication that these men barricaded themselves in?
MANCHIN: Yes, there is. They did the barricading, which they're taught to do. They did everything, as I'm understanding, from what the rescue teams have told me, by the book.
QUESTION: Who is the survivor? And what was his condition when he was found?
MANCHIN: I understand it was serious. And it was a Mr. McCloy.
RAMSBURG: Randal McCloy.
MANCHIN: Randal McCloy.
MANCHIN: Junior. I'm sorry: Randal McCloy Jr.
QUESTION: Have any of the other miners been recovered already?
MANCHIN: As we're speaking right now -- the track was damaged quite a bit when they made the two left cut, and they could not take the tram car back in so they had to walk in by foot.
Normally, that's a 35-minute tram ride, as I'm told. That would then be well over an hour in what they had to do.
That was around 2 o'clock, I believe, when the new and fresh teams were going back in. So as we speak -- and that should be progressing, if it's not completed.
QUESTION: Governor, mistakes happened. Have you talked to the person who said, "We have 12 lives saved"? And...
MANCHIN: Not really.
QUESTION: ... I can only imagine he's...
MANCHIN: Not really. I really -- I mean, you can imagine if that, whoever that person -- I really can't.
Our people, from our mine inspectors -- our people were not in the room when that -- and heard it by someone transferring the information the same as it was transferred to family members and everyone else.
QUESTION: Do you plan to consult them as well? Him or she?
MANCHIN: Oh my. I can only imagine how that person or those -- I don't know if there was more than one that might have heard it and interpreted it differently.
I can't speak for them; I was not there. I was with the family, as my staff was with me, and I just...
QUESTION: What did the miners use to barricade themselves in with?
MANCHIN: I understand there was a bradish (ph) cloth-type -- it's a cloth material, heavy cloth, if you will. It's a normal procedure.
QUESTION: They were trying to barricade off the...
MANCHIN: They were trying to keep that -- keep the bad air out. Remember how we kept talking, if they could barricade theirself in and hopefully find good air?
And I would like probably more for the rescue people to be able to talk to you with the technicalities, more so than myself.
QUESTION: Is there any indication as to the cause of death?
MANCHIN: The only thing that I have been told that -- we know carbon monoxide is the real problem that we have. And other than that, I don't know any more.
QUESTION: As these towns are so tightly knit, do you guys plan to have any grief counselors on hand?
MANCHIN: We had people at the church all day yesterday, today.
QUESTION: Is this going to be an ongoing process?
MANCHIN: We will continue to do that. The school systems do everything that we can possibly can.
As I told you now, our efforts are totally toward the support of the family in any way, shape or form. And we know the grief and the grief period in the time that we go through, and we're there to support through that and we're there to support after that.
But we're also supporting the miracle person that we do have. QUESTION: So at this point, do we know if all the bodies have been removed from the mine?
MANCHIN: That was what I was just asked. And I assume that if not, it's well under way. And it might be completed as we speak. (inaudible) back to the mine site.
QUESTION: Governor, who employed the team of rescuers who gave the false information? Were they state workers?
MANCHIN: No, I'm saying that -- to say the rescuers gave it wrong -- it may have been heard and interpreted. You know, if somebody might have said something, that, "We have one or two and all 12 are here," you don't know how that could have been interpreted or what it was heard.
I can't speak. I really don't know and I don't pretend to.
I can only ask you all to be compassionate with the people that worked so hard, that this is not intentional. No one did.
The people, I'm sure, have more grief right now than anyone can imagine. And they're going through and feeling the pain, the same as the families that lost their loved ones.
QUESTION: So it's entirely possible, Governor, that there were just problems in interpretation? People may have heard something different out of that hole?
MANCHIN: I truly...
QUESTION: So why not wait until they were absolutely sure that the men were dead or alive?
How did the information flow, which has been disciplined for the last two days, get so out of control and result in what's happened tonight?
MANCHIN: I can only tell you that everything you've said is absolutely correct. I don't have the answers for that. I wish I did. I will.
QUESTION: Do you know if one of the miners might have died in the initial explosion, possibly the fire boss, fire chief of the mining crew? MANCHIN: Again, this is what has been told by the experts and the rescuers, that that probably is what had happened, that that explosion and the body being close to that face of the explosion.
QUESTION: Governor, why the three-hour delay in passing the correct information on?
MANCHIN: I'm told that, basically, they were still trying to ascertain and get correct information. "The one comes out that we know is surviving and breathing; hopefully there might be more; they're not sure. Is there two? Is there three?" They really didn't know. And they're getting more teams in there.
And the conditions that they're working in is very difficult, to say the least, from what I've been told.
And we didn't, from that standpoint, want to give more information that was more inaccurate because that had already been done.
QUESTION: (inaudible) delay in the information given out to the media. How long was it before (inaudible) working with the rescue team knew that this was (inaudible)?
MANCHIN: They were hearing information. As I'm understanding, there was information coming in that was not accurate and was not confirmed because there was so much going on at the time...
QUESTION: At what point did they know that this was not...
MANCHIN: I can't tell you. I really don't know.
I'm sure that the people who were here before me might have had the answers to that. I really don't.
QUESTION: Some (inaudible) members are saying that they were told that the survivors would be brought to the church only 30 minutes before they were told that there were no (inaudible). Do you have any information?
MANCHIN: I really don't. Again, I don't have that information. And I just -- I can only tell you this is a very difficult time for many people. We have miracle person that we're clinging to. We have 12 miracles that did not happen tonight.
Again, I know that it's been a long few days for you all. I appreciate the way you have conducted yourself, the way you have handled it. It's difficult for all of us.
Everybody has a job to do and I know that you all have done the best you possibly can. And I know it's been trying times. I want to thank you all.
RAMSBURG: Thank you all very much.
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