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Continuing Coverage of Second Utah Mine Cave-In

Aired August 17, 2007 - 01:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There is a lot of fast-moving information, a lot of shifting information. So just want to make sure we're clear. Here's the information as we know it -- right now nine rescue workers, nine miners, two of whom are actually MSHA workers, have been involved in an incident. Two of the nine have died. Seven are injured.
There are three people right now being treated at the local hospital. One of them -- a fourth person has already been released. A fifth person who was brought to that local hospital was life-flighted to a larger hospital in Salt Lake City.

We know that one of the -- one other miner was life-flighted earlier to a hospital, the University of Utah Hospital, that has a big trauma center. And word that the latest fatality comes from Provo, Utah. So at this point, an operation which began several hours ago which at first we had heard that there were six people involved. Then the number went up to nine. And then there was one fatality. Now we know there are two fatalities. The latest report coming from the Associated Press with confirmation from CNN yet to come.

At this point, family members of the miners who are no longer in the hospital or family members that have come to the local hospital just to express their support -- this is a tight-knit community. These are families beyond just biology.

They have been told to go home, to leave the hospital. So it's just the folks who are at the hospital in the cafeteria right now waiting for word on their loved ones. The mayor of Price, Utah, is there as well. He says he'll stay as long as he is needed.

Still trying to figure out what went wrong inside this mine. We know there was some sort of seismic event. We heard that from our own Chad Myers who showed us the seismic event that occurred around 6:39 Utah Time. We know that the incident occurred right then at that moment related to that so-called mountain bump. That's been a problem that has plagued the rescue operation for the past 11 days, just these recurring mountain bumps which at times halt the rescue efforts. At times it doesn't halt the rescue efforts. But in this case, it brought everything to a stop.

Right now that mine sits empty. It is simply too dangerous for anyone to be in that mine. There is no continued rescue operation for the six miners who, of course, all of this was about. But tonight the story changed very rapidly as the rescuers became those who needed to be rescued. This happened deep inside the mine. It took, we are told, some 20 or 30 minutes just to get the rescuers out of the mine in order to receive the kind of attention. We're still trying to figure out what exactly is going to happen tomorrow morning when the question will become, well, do the rescue efforts continue? And that's a question not only mine owners will have to wrestle with, but ultimately that will boil down to officials from MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Standing by with us, Mayor Hilary Gordon of Huntington, Utah. Mayor Gordon, appreciate you being with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. What are you trying to do right now?

MAYOR HILARY GORDON, HUNTINGTON, UTAH: I have been trying to -- well, I was at meetings. We were with the families of the six original men that were trapped in there, and we were -- myself and some of the council people were with those families tonight, gathered together as they got an update. And then they had a meal, and went from there to another meeting that I had. It wasn't a coal-related meeting, but it was a different kind of meeting.

And of course, I had my cell phone off during that time. When I had left there, I came home and turned my cell phone on and my daughter called and said, mom, have you heard what's gone on? And of course, I had not. And she told me about the tragedy, and I said, oh, that can't be true. I had have been on the phone ever since, literally. I have one phone and then the other phone, and trying to talk to people and see what's gone on, how I can be of help, if there's anything we can do.

Sometimes I find that when these things happen I don't want to get in the way. I want to be background support and help as does the other council members. We want to be there for support and help. And that's what we feel like we've been for the other family members.

COOPER: Have you talked subsequently to any of the -- you were saying you were dining with family members of the six miners who have been trapped for these last eleven daze. For them, this has got to be a particularly difficult moment. Not only knowing that their friends, their members of a larger mining community, have risked their lives to help their loved ones and been injured and in two cases been killed in the process.

But then also to kind of know weighing out there is still the fate of their loved ones hanging in the balance. That question of what's going to happen tomorrow. Will the rescue operation continue? Have you been able to talk to any of the family of the six original miners who still are missing at this point?

GORDON: You know, not since I got back from this other meeting, I have not. Because, of course, I didn't know anything about it until, you know, after that had happened.

And I can only imagine what they're going through because it was -- it felt -- of course, it was necessary, and we all understand that, that the rescue efforts were slow because of the conditions in the mine. But, you know, when you're waiting for a loved one, 24 hours is a long time. And these people are looking at 11, 12 days, and they're just -- then last night we had the news that maybe there was a little noise and that there was still hope. And so the men were just - and families were just ecstatic to think that, you know, maybe they were getting closer and closer.

And this has just been a really severe blow. Of course, I hadn't talked to any of them about this because, actually, I left the meeting with the families, I left there just after 7:00, and we hadn't had word of this. You know, the news didn't reach us until later.


GORDON: So there was no way to, you know, gauge that. I couldn't -- but I know these families, and I know the kind of strength that these people have. I know what they're made of. You know, pure gold is probably close to the description of these people. They are, and they are really, really strong. But this has been a really, really terrible blow for them, for the original six families, and not to mention the ones that have lost loved ones tonight, knowing that they were in there to help others out. I mean, you know, what greater gift can you give? But that doesn't make you any less sad.

COOPER: And you talk about the strength of these families, not only just the strength of the miners but the strength of the folks behind them. That strength is certainly going to be tested in the next 24 hours as -- I mean, I'm just trying to put myself in the position of someone from MSHA or a mining family, and it is a terrible decision that has to be made at some point about, you know, do the operations continue? Do more people go down in the mine to try to rescue those six? What happens? And do you have any thoughts on how that decision should be made?

GORDON: You know, of course, that isn't something that I will be even asked or be even involved in because I don't have any direct association with the mine or the mine owners.

But one thing I do know is that they will consider every possibility before they make a decision. They won't make my any decision lightly, as they haven't about rescuing these men. As you know - and I'm sure the public out there has somewhat been frustrated because it seems to take so long. And the reason it has taken a while is because of the uncertainty of the inside of this mine. Especially after that initial boomer. It just seemed like, you know, even though it -- it's like snow on an avalanche. You get that down, but there's still some that's loose. So they go back and try to take care of -- I know it's not the same thing, but it comes down that fast.

And clearing the way from this coal is not -- it just isn't an easy thing. So I do know, with all confidence, that whatever decision they do make will be in the best interest of everyone involved, of all the families. They'll take all of that into consideration. But I do know that MSHA has been very, very cautious and careful about letting these men in and about the way that they've been mining. And obviously that's true because they've been right there, and two of those men were hurt tonight themselves.

COOPER: Mayor Gordon, I know it's been a long couple of hours for you, and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. And if you do talk to family members, please express is -- I'm getting flooded with e-mails from people expressing their pain over what they are watching, what they are hearing.

GORDON: Right.

COOPER: So, I hope the families know there are a lot of folks watching and listening who are thinking about them tonight and will be in the days and weeks ahead. Mayor Gordon, thank you.

GORDON: Thank you so much and thank you for your kind thoughts and for everyone out there, for their e-mails and prayers. Maybe they're not always heard audibly, but I'm telling you the families feel those prayers and that love. And thank you.

COOPER: Let's hope so. Robert Walz is a reporter from CNN affiliate KTVX. He joins us now. Robert, I'm going to ask you about -- I know you have information about the second person who has died. And we have been very cautious just before we go to you, Robert -- I don't want any family member or loved one hearing, you know, information about their loved one, especially by name, if they have not been directly informed about it. I know most ...

ROBERT WALZ, KTVX REPORTER: They haven't released the names of any of the victims so that won't be a problem.

COOPER: All right. Good. I just want to be clear on that just in case you did know this person's name.

What can you tell us about this fatality? When did it occur? Did this person -- the only report we had heard was from the Associated Press. We've not been able to independently confirm this. And the Associated Press was saying the person died at a Provo, Utah, hospital.

WALZ: Yeah, that's correct. That was confirmed to us by the hospital officials about 10 or 15 minutes ago, that one of the mine rescuers that was brought to the hospital here in Provo about two hours ago had passed away while the trauma team was assessing his injuries. They flew him here to Provo, which is about 70 miles from the mine, in a helicopter, took about 20 minutes to get here.

When he arrived, he was in critical condition. He had multiple broken bones and other injuries. They were able to work on him for about an hour in the trauma room before he passed away.

COOPER: And you may have said it, but I may have missed it because I was listening to a wire, seeing a wire, as well. He was life-flighted directly from the mine or from the local hospital?

WALZ: He was life-flighted directly from the mine. He was one of the first ones that they life-flighted out. So he came directly here because of the seriousness of his injuries. So he arrived here. When they brought him past, he did not appear to be conscious. He was breathing on his own, but the hospital officials say that he had multiple injuries, multiple broken bones. The trauma team -- the reason they brought him here is because they have an advanced trauma team at this hospital who could better deal with this situation. While they were working with him, after about an hour of their efforts, they said that he passed away.

COOPER: Is this the University of Utah Hospital?

WALZ: No. The University of Utah is about 50 miles north of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.


WALZ: So it was the closest hospital that had an advanced trauma team that could deal with these serious injuries.

COOPER: And where are you now, Robert?

WALZ: Just outside the hospital here in Provo.

COOPER: Robert, we appreciate you coming in and telling us what you know, and appreciate your sensitivity on it as well for family members who may be out there. Appreciate it, Robert, thank you.

WALZ: Certainly.

COOPER: Ben Winslow from the "Deseret Morning News" has been reporting now -- just reading this off the wire as well - Richard Stickler from MSHA, a man, many of you have been following this story for the last 11 days or so will know doubt know he's often present at the press conferences with Bob Murray, the mine owner, but according to this report from the "Deseret Morning News," Richard Stickler from MSHA has just gone to meet with the families. So we'll see if after the meting with the families he makes some sort of public statement. Thankfully, we are not getting public statements from these officials until they meet with families, which certainly is thoughtful for the families which is thankfully a major concern.

Yeah, Ben Winslow, actually he is joining us now. I didn't realize that. Ben, thanks for being with us. What have you heard?

BEN WINSLOW, "DESERET MORNING NEWS": Well, from what we understand and from what we saw, actually, we observed Richard Stickler drive out of here just a short time ago. He was headed toward the town of Huntington. We presume that he is going to be meeting with the families of the six trapped miners. The big question, of course, that everybody is going to be asking, is what is going to happen with the rescue effort? They've gotten all the miners out of the mine. From what we've been told by MSHA, the fourth hole, that eight and five eighths inch hole is still being drilled. But with all of the miners out of the mine, the underground efforts, you have two fatalities and you have the other injuries to the other miners and the rescue team, what is going to be happening?

And we were told by MSHA earlier this evening that that is being discussed. And of course, we are hoping to hear in the next little bit from Mr. Stickler with MSHA as well as perhaps Crandall Canyon Mine owner Bob Murray.

COOPER: So it's your understanding that the fourth hole that's being drilled, that is continuing or has that stopped as well? Do you know for a fact?

WINSLOW: No. We were told by one of the MSHA spokesmen here who came down and briefed reporters on this that that effort is still under way. That started just today, in fact, drilling about 1,500 feet to an area where they think that the six trapped miners may be. This, of course, they moved this drilling location because they based it off of some vibrations or some noises as they termed it that some of the geophones picked up in the mountains above the mine. They caution that these geophones are not reliable necessarily. They detect everything from thunder in the sky to an animal walking on the mountain.

But they had five minutes of distinct noise in second and a half bursts that certainly made them stop and think enough to start to say, hey, maybe we ought to start drilling in this area. And that's, from what we understand, from what we were told, still going on.

COOPER: Ben Winslow from the "Deseret Morning News," Ben, we appreciate you come willing in, telling us what you heard, what you saw as well. Richard Stickler from MSHA apparently heading toward the hospital to meet with family members. We're going to take a short break. Our coverage is going to continue throughout this hour as developments are still coming in.

As we go to break, I just want to read you another e-mail. Getting a lot of e-mails tonight. Trying to get some of your questions answered to our various experts who are being on.

But this is from Denise in Atlanta, Georgia. She writes, "The miners, the two miners that died tonight did so as heroes. They gave their lives trying to save another. Anyone that risks their life to save another is a hero in my eyes. I appreciate and am thankful for the sacrifice they have made. I find myself appreciating my family and friends more in the last 11 days. Please let those in Utah know that they have the prayers and thoughts of the country at this time of need."

We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Well, welcome back. Thanks for joining us in our coverage.

The sad news, two people have died this evening, seven remain injured, although one has been released already and is apparently home. Dan Simon is joining us now. He's been following the story from the beginning. He joins us from near the mine. Dan, do we know at this point where Bob Murray, the mine owner, is?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're told he is still down there. And we continue to see a number of cars and trucks go to and from the mine, despite the fact that all of the rescuers have been evacuated from the mine.

Anderson, I think we can say at this point that this operation, at least inside the mine, has been suspended. Remember, this was a 24/7 operation, and we now know that everybody, essentially, has been evacuated from the mine. The question is, how long will it be suspended? Of course, you had the initial event where you had six miners trapped inside, and now you have nine people, two of whom lost their lives trying to save those six men.

So I think we can say pretty much for certain that there will be a number of people who will come forward who will say that, A, this mine is not safe and that it would be irresponsible to continue to allocate resources, to continue to put people in there and perhaps risk their lives. You can bet some of those voices will be coming forward.

COOPER: It is such a difficult decision that has to be made at this point. We just got word, Bob Murray is going to be having a press conference tomorrow morning 11:00 a.m. local time. He will not be speaking this evening. This will be the first time he speaks, or I should say early this morning, 11:00 a.m. local time this morning is when he will be -- Friday morning - is when he will be speaking.

Dan, we'll continue to come back to you. Janet Frank is on the line from the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, a spokesperson for the hospital. Janet, thanks for being with us. At your hospital is where the second fatality has taken place, correct?


COOPER: What can you tell us about this person's condition? What happened?

FRANK: I can tell you that he arrived at our hospital at about a quarter to 9:00 this evening with multiple trauma. He arrived by medical helicopter. Our trauma team was in the process of assessing his injuries and beginning to treat and find out everything they were dealing with when it became evident that he was going to pass away.

COOPER: And this person had been life-flighted directly from the mine?

FRANK: Yes. He came directly from the scene.

COOPER: Do you have any other victims from this incident at your hospital currently?

FRANK: We do have one additional patient.

COOPER: Can you tell us their condition?

FRANK: He is in critical condition with a head trauma situation, but he is alert and is breathing on his own.

COOPER: Alert and breathing on his own. Is his family with him now?

FRANK: I am not sure if the family of the second patient has arrived yet or not.

COOPER: OK. But they've certainly been informed.


COOPER: OK. I just want to be very careful about giving out any information about any folks that haven't been informed. Janet, is there anything else I should be asking? Anything else you can tell us?

FRANK: No. That's about it. Well, we are finished receiving patients. We will only have these two from the accident.

COOPER: OK. So right now one patient in critical condition, breathing on his own, and, sadly, a fatality at the regional medical center there in Provo. Janet Frank, appreciate you joining us. Thank you very much.

Obviously, one other family probably perhaps on their way, hopefully, to that hospital. Can only imagine what they are going through as they await word. We're going to take a short break. We'll come back. Our coverage continues. Don't go away.


COOPER: Our coverage of this unfolding tragedy continues. Nine miners, nine rescuers, including two MSHA workers, involved in an incident tonight. Seven of them injured, now two fatalities. One patient at least is still in a hospital in Provo in critical condition. He is alert, breathing on his own, but still is in critical condition.

Three other patients at the local hospital. Also, we know of at least one other patient at University of Utah hospital who was life-flighted there. Amanda Madrigal joins us now. Her brother and father helped out with the rescue operation. We spoke to Amanda several hours ago. She hadn't heard from her brother or father. She is in Las Vegas. Amanda, at this point, thanks for joining us again. Have you heard from your family?

AMANDA MADRIGAL, RELATIVE OF RESCUE WORKERS (on phone): Well, as I was waiting to hear information, I received several phone calls, and I received a text message from my sister that she forwarded to me from my brother saying that my dad and him were on their way home, that they were close to the accident but nothing happened to them.

COOPER: Well, that's got to be a huge relief, obviously.

MADRIGAL: Yeah. My heart was pounding. I was stressed out the whole time. Not knowing what happened or who was hurt, and knowing that some people were hurt and I pray for the families that lost two of the rescue workers today.

COOPER: Well, I know -- I'm glad things have worked out for your family. And I'm sure a lot of folks appreciate your thoughts on their behalf. We just wanted to check back in with you and make sure things are okay. So Amanda, again, please give our best to your family for all their efforts.

MADRIGAL: Thank you.

COOPER: CNN's Gary Tuchman who has been covering this for the last eleven days joins us on the phone. Gary, two fatalities tonight that we know of. You actually - and again, we're not giving out names, just to repeat, I don't want any family members who maybe have not heard or friends of somebody who's not heard, I don't want them finding out from the television that their loved one or their friend has died. But you actually have met one of the deceased miners.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Right. And certainly as a respect to these miners' families who might not have fund out, we will not release the names. But a family member of one of the miners has told me the names of two of the deceased. And one of them was a man I saw in the mine when we were in last Wednesday. The reason I know that is they have their last names on their helmets. And this man's name was on his helmet.

And it's just incredibly sad knowing I was in the mine with these men so tense and frankly nervous but knew they had a job to do to find their six comrades. And it's just unbelievable this happened. This really is a worst-case scenario. This is what Bob Murray and the fellow miners we've been talking to have been afraid of.

And we're talking about what will happen with the rescue during this program tonight. And I can tell you what we need to remind our viewers of is when we went in Wednesday, we just went in hours after they resumed the rescue after stopping it for two days inside the mine because of the mine bumps.

So although it's not been officially announced, I think you can assume that for the time being it's likely they will suspend the inside rescue. They will continue, most likely, to drill the vertical holes from the top. Those vertical holes basically are peepholes, though, they are for cameras and microphones and food, if they see anybody. It's just to find out if they're alive. But as far as going in the mine, they're going to have to stop that and see what's wrong with this mine.

And it brings up a very difficult scenario because if the amazing thing happens and through the vertical holes through the mine and they find out the six men are alive or one of them are alive, what do they do at that point? Because the danger is obviously for the men to be working there.

And another juxtaposition that's been so tragic. We've had these families of the six meeting at the school for the last 10 days. Now you have the families of these other miners meeting at the hospital. And it's just so tragic and so sad.

COOPER: I was thinking about the families of the six who are continued to be missing and lost, and, you know what they are going through tonight. Because again, I've said it before, but it does bear repeating, to think they have -- they're still missing their loved ones and don't know what's going to happen tomorrow when the sun comes up and whether the rescue operations will in any form continue. Now doubly on top of that, they have other friends and no doubt colleagues who have lost their lives trying to help out their missing loved ones.

TUCHMAN: The emotions of those original families of the six are going through must be indescribable right now. I will tell you, Anderson, that we talked about this man before, there were 10 miners in the mine originally Monday when the cave-in happened. Four got out. The last person who got out and was closest to the miners was a gentleman by the name of Jameson Ward (ph).

His relatives had told me that tonight he was just going into the mine to begin his rescue shift when this accident happened. So he was just going in. And the family is just in a state of shock that their loved one survived this Monday and was just going in again when it happened again. They're just incredulous.

COOPER: It is unbelievable. Gary, appreciate your thoughts. We'll talk back with you. Joining us on the phone now, Dennis O'Dell, safety and health director at United Mine Workers of America.

Actually, Dennis, got a couple of questions and a lot of these based on e-mails that viewers have been sending in, a lot of viewers with questions. Some folks are wondering if what happened, if these mountain bumps, are just natural phenomena, if it just happens all the time or if it happens because of coal being shifted and the mining that is going on.

DENNIS O'DELL, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA (on phone): Well, in the area we're at now, they happen. But what causes it to become even worse is the type of mining that has been at that mine. In other words, they allow large blocks of coal, large barriers, to be in place to prevent a mountain bump from occurring when they do this mining. This mine that we're at right now, all the long-wall mining had been finished, all the development mining had been pretty much finished. What they were doing now is actually retreating out of that mine, cutting the pillars, and they were reducing that mine support that was originally in place when that mine was developed. Therefore, it escalated the chances of a mountain bump, when it does occur to become even more severe. That's why you see what's happened with floor moving up, the ribs popping out, the collapsed mine actually pushing down, that pressure pushing down.

So it just worsens the condition, by the type of mining that took place at Crandall Canyon.

COOPER: And in terms of what happens tomorrow, I mean, Gary Tuchman was saying that perhaps the decision would be made that they would suspend the actual underground rescue effort but continue the drilling with this fourth drill hole that's been drilled this last day or so. Does that seem like a reasonable course of action? I mean, it's up to MSHA obviously to make that decision.

O'DELL: Yeah, it is. They're going to have to look at everything and reevaluate what's going on and make a sound decision because you can't -- you know, you can't risk rescue workers, and they have to look at that. And if the conditions have gotten to the point as a result of what we've seen tonight that MSHA makes the determination that this activity is going to continue and it's going to worsen, unfortunately, they may have to make a decision to cease rescue attempts. We've seen this happen before. We actually have mines where bodies are entombed because the rescue activity became too dangerous for the rescue teams to go in.

I hope that's not the case here. I hope there's a way that they can figure out to continue do what they do. But it's -- it doesn't look very good.

COOPER: Dennis, we're going to have to take a short break. And as I said, we've been getting literally inundated with e-mails, people with questions and just people wanting to send their thoughts and prayers to the mining families. This is from Yasu (ph) in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

"Anderson, I truly appreciate your sensitivity over this broadcast. My brother died when he was five. It was broadcast locally and many people visited us just to see our reaction. I felt very violated and disgusted. My heart goes out to all of the families who are tragically in the midst of this. We were all praying for you and your loved ones. America is watching over you. Please stay strong, with sincere prayers, Yasu (ph)."

We're going to take a short break and be right back.


COOPER: Some of the images from this evening which continues, this story continues to develop. Gary Tuchman joins us now on the phone. Gary, we should talk a little bit. Dennis O'Dell from the United Mine Workers of America was saying these bumps are made worse by the kind of mining that he says is going on in the mine. He says it's retreat mining. That's not the position taken by Bob Murray, the owner of this mine.

TUCHMAN (on phone): Right. I think in the interest of fairness, Bob Murray is contending -- and this certainly would have to be borne out in the future. Not a lot of scientists agree -- that it was a natural earthquake that caused this initial bump last Monday and these bumps are continued aftershocks from that initial earthquake.

Others, though, have been saying that, yes, retreat mining, which is miners knocking down pillars as they retreat from the mall to get all the coal they can because the pillars are made of coal, weakens the mine and created an event that the mine collapsed then causing the seismic reading.

But I will tell you that the owner of the mine, although he doesn't deny they've done retreat mining in this mine, they do retreat mining in a lot in mines out west, he denies retreat mining was going on when this cave-in occurred last Monday.

COOPER: And obviously, there will be investigations which will try to bear out whether or not that is accurate. TUCHMAN: Well and that was a thing investigators were saying, that they would begin their investigation as soon as there was a result with the six missing miners. Now you're dealing with the situation with not only do you have the six miners we don't know their fates but you have these new miners who are new victims today.

COOPER: Gary, I just got an e-mail from a guy named Ed in Making (ph), Kentucky who said he's a retired coal miner, that he was involved in the recovery of 26 victims in the Kentucky Scotia Mine (ph) twin explosions March 9th and 11th 1976.

And he said he recovered the first 11 miners on the same day the explosion occurred, but it took eight - actually I've got to interrupt this. Dan Simon has been following this story from the beginning. He joins us with new, important information. Dan, what have you heard?

SIMON: Anderson, we are now being told that there are now three fatalities. This information coming from the Utah Department of Natural Resources, now reporting that three people have lost their lives inside this mine. People who had gone inside to rescue the six trapped miners. Of course, that leaves six more people injured. Obviously, the news just keeps getting worse and worse. But we can tell you, as of right now, three people dead, Anderson.

COOPER: Dan, we probably don't have this information. Do we know the third victim, which hospital he was in?

SIMON: Really not clear at this point, Anderson. Don't know where that ...

COOPER: We don't know ...

SIMON: Sorry. Getting a little bit of interference.

COOPER: We don't know where the third victim was hospitalized. Just to bring our viewers up to date, we know that there was one fatality at the local hospital. There was one fatality at the hospital in Provo, Utah. We do not know the third fatality, where that took place.

We know one victim from this incident was life-flighted immediately from the mine to the University of Utah Hospital, which I believe is in Salt Lake City. Obviously, the extent of that person's injuries were significant enough that they need to be life-flighted directly from the mine to the University of Utah Medical Center where they have a large trauma center. Again, the status of that patient we do not know. We will try to find out. We do know that there was another patient alive when we spoke to the hospital about 20 or 30 minutes ago at the hospital in Provo, Utah, where one of the people had died.

So two patients were brought to Provo, were life-flighted to Provo. One of them we knew had died about 20 minutes ago. That was the second fatality that was reported. This third fatality, we do not have the information of where this third fatality took place. We'll try to get that information as well.

We're going to take a short break as this terrible night just continues to develop and get worse. We'll be right lack.


COOPER: Well, we continue to follow this developing story. The latest information, three miners now out of the nine who were involved in this incident have died. Kara is live at Castleview Hospital. She joins us now from Price, Utah. Kara, obviously just horrific news for all involved. At the hospital where you are now, do we know how many patients remain?

FINNSTROM: We've been trying to confirm whether or not that that person that has died was being treated here. We haven't been able to confirm either way on that yet. The last word we had from this had hospital was there were three of those people hurt in this last event up at the mine being treated here. They were brought here by ambulance. We're about 45 minutes away from the mine site. Two of those people we were told were in serious condition, one of those people in very serious condition.

Again, we're working right now to find out if that is still the case, if we still have three people being treated here. Earlier this evening there were a lot of the mining families, a lot of people from the community, trying to come by, trying to get information on who these nine rescue workers and MSHA workers were that were hurt.

They have been sent away since then, but a council member also told us that up at the site of the mine the mine itself asked all of the rescue workers to head down the hill, to please let their family members know that they were OK. Because you can just imagine the stress in this community after 11 days of being on edge, waiting for word of these six trapped miners, now to have another nine, now we know three of them actually killed, in this most recent incident up at the mine.

COOPER: It is just terrible. And so a lot of the family members have left now the hospital, but the family members obviously of the people who are still being treated are still there.

FINNSTROM: Yes. We're told some social workers have been brought in. Those family members of the people who are being treated are being kind of sequestered, kept inside the hospital. Some of them I imagine with their family members but also being allowed to talk with some social workers. Many of them obviously know people still interest trapped in the mine.

So just -- it just must be overload for these families. Within the last week, it seems every night they have had a big community event, a vigil, a prayer service, a fund-raiser yesterday and a fund-raiser again being held tomorrow for these six trapped miners. So they were already exhausted with worry, with concern.

COOPER: Let's hope they'll be given at least the privacy they need in these terrible hours. Kara, appreciate your reporting. We'll continue to check in with you through the evening.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us now. Gary, we're getting as lot of questions from viewers and one I've repeatedly got, probably several hundred e-mails on this. I'm just going to ask you the question because a lot of people out there who kind of want to know - The question is, and I know you've been covering this from the beginning and may know. If they're able to drill the holes down into to try to search for the original six miners, how come they can't drill a wider hole and put an actual person down through the hole to kind of look around?

TUCHMAN: That is a good question I've been getting e-mails about that too. We asked that question to mine officials a few days ago. Here's the situation -- they actually have a capsule at the site, a capsule that can pull someone out. It's a capsule we saw used during the Two Creek mining situation which was one of the great stories of all time when all the miners were brought up, only about 200 feet below ground level in these baskets or capsules. And they all lived.

This is about 1,800 feet. It's much more complex. What they're saying is you can bring a rescue worker down the hole, it is way too dangerous, 2,000 feet, they might not survive, it's just too dangerous.

However, theoretically, if you did see someone through the small holes being drilled on the top of the mountain, you could drill a big enough hole to bring the capsule down and bring that person up, but that would take about three weeks. So the thought was a few days ago it would be quicker to go inside the mine, continue drilling, and maybe we're talking a week or 10 days, so it was consider a quicker way to do it.

But that will possibly be an option on the table if they're indeed lucky enough to find one, two, or all of these six miners live, to blast a big hole and bring the rescue capsule down. But you're talking a three-week process that would start at the very minimum.

COOPER: Which is sort of like starting all over again. It's got to be -- Again, we come back to the families of the six miners who are still missing from the original incident, and, again, what they must be going through tonight as they watch this coverage, no doubt, as they try to track along with what is going on. Because, obviously, it is not just the fate of the nine who were involved in this incident tonight. It is the of fate of the six, who the nine people from tonight were trying to find. What did you learn, Gary, from your trip down into the mine? I mean, how did it change the way you were reporting? How did it change the way you understood the situation?

TUCHMAN: Well, what's really interesting, Anderson, is there have been certainly many mine disasters over the years, but it's been a tradition that reporters aren't allowed in the mine. It's considered too dangerous.

Our position as journalists are, we cover a lot of dangerous stories, whether it's wars or hostage situations. We've always asked to be allowed to go inside the mines. So from a journalistic First Amendment standpoint, we thought it was great because it gave us a vantage point and it made us realize and allowed to show pictures to our viewers to show how dangerous and claustrophobic and dark. And it just so happened while we were there, just unbelievable coincidence that happened while we were there,, but we had one of these mountain bumps occur while we were in the mountain. And as far as I know, -- I actually talked to a professor of communications about this -- this is the first time that we've ever seen a mountain bump on videotape occur.

So it gave us an insight and allowed us to present to our viewers what goes on and how treacherous and dangerous this job is even in the best of circumstances. In a normal day, I've talked to a couple of miners who work in this mine, they say they say a prayer and cross their heart before they go in the mine every day. This is before all this happened. It's a treacherous, dangerous job, and there's two main reasons they do it. Three, actually.

One, their family members, fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers have done it, two, it's all they know. And three it pays a heck of a lot of money. You make more mining in some these communities than you can in any other job.

COOPER: We're going to take a short break.

As we do, I just want to read another e-mail we've gotten from a viewer. This is from Jose in Montreal. He says, "Here's a prayer I found on the Web. I'm going to say that prayer until everything is over. Maybe it will help. I don't know but at least it feels like I'm doing something to help." He says, "This is the coal miner's prayer. Each dawn as we rise, Lord we know all too well we face only one thing, a pit filled with hell. To scratch out a living the best we can, but deep in the heart lies the soul of a man. With black covered faces and hard calloused hands, we work the dark tunnels unable to stand, to labor and toil as we harvest the coal. As we silently pray, Lord, please harvest our souls."

We'll be right back.


COOPER: It has been some -- well, four hours since we have been starting our coverage of this. Four hours ago we started to get word that ambulances were seen approaching the mine entrance. Never a good sign, of course. And from two to three ambulances, the number grew to six. Then the ambulances began to return from the mine and we actually saw people being worked on inside those ambulances.

And then the first word of a fatality came, and then the second word that a second person had died. And now there's word that a third person has died. Three out of nine people involved in the incident.

We know that one of the nine has been sent home from the hospital. That is certainly good news for that family. But there are so many families right now in need in this community. So many families wondering what will happen tomorrow. Will the rescue effort for the six miners who were originally trapped continue? Will that continue? Are those six still alive? How many lives finally will this mine take? A lot of questions still to be answered. Tomorrow morning we anticipate a press conference at 11:00 a.m. from Bob Murray who is the owner of this mine, the man who's been front and center in all of this. Certainly a lot of controversy around him, a lot of controversy about the record of this mine.

All of that will, no doubt, be examined in the days and weeks ahead. Gary Tuchman is standing by, who's been reporting this story from the beginning. Gary, you got an e-mail from somebody?

TUCHMAN: Yeah. I was telling you earlier Anderson about Jamison Ward, the last of the four who got out on Monday alive. He had just been with the miners who were missing three minutes earlier. His little truck he was in got slammed into the wall when the cave-in happened. His family was just telling me he was walking into the mine to start his rescue shift tonight when this happened.

And he and a few others were actually the miners, the rescuers who dug out the nine victims. You can imagine is that. Just in the last eleven days he escapes and then he comes back among the tumult and commotion to try, attempt to save the lives of all nine. Of course, three of them didn't make it.

COOPER: Unbelievable. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back. Our coverage will continue.


COOPER: It has been a rough night all around. It may be a tougher morning still for the families of the fallen rescuers and for the missing miners and everyone in the close-knit Utah mining community and frankly the extended family, really, that's now absorbing yet another body blow.

With any luck this will all be over soon. Our coverage, though, continues with Tony Harris who joins us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Tony?

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, appreciate it. Thank you so much and thank you for your efforts this evening and to everyone covering this story for us and good evening to you, everyone.

I'm Tony Harris here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta following breaking news tonight out of Utah.