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Further Continuing Coverage of Second Utah Mine Cave- In/Accident & Rescue Effort Casualties

Aired August 17, 2007 - 02:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.
About four hours ago we started seeing ambulances at the site of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington, Utah. That is where six miners have been trapped for 10 days. Here is what we know.

And what we know is that an apparent underground seismic bump happened while rescue teams were inside the mine. Nine people were inside the mine at the time. Three people confirmed now dead, six others injured.

We have crews at the mine's command center and at one area hospital where the majority of the injured were taken. Let's get started now with our Dan Simon. Dan is at the command center.

Dan, if you would, talk us through the information that you have learned this evening. And take your time. Set a baseline for us to operate in these overnight hours. What do you know? And when did the information start to flow your way?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Tony. Well, this happened just after 6:30 p.m. local time. We saw a few ambulances race past us and go towards the mine. That was sort of our first inkling that something wrong had occurred.

And then we heard a short time later that there was a bit of a seismic bump inside the mine. And then more ambulances started coming to the scene. Well, then next thing we know, three people were pronounced dead. And six people were injured.

All of the rescuers were taken, were evacuated from the mine. So as of right now, the mining operation, or at least the rescue operation to free those six trapped miners has stopped. The question is, how long will it stop?

Of course, there will be some people who will come forward and say that this mine is unsafe and that nobody should be inside. And for the families of these miners, the six trapped miners, it is really devastating information on two fronts.

Number one, this community, which has really embraced the families, has taken care of them, these are people who live amongst them and have been inside there trying to rescue their loved ones, obviously you have a major accident and so they are grieving for them. And also, they don't know the fate of their own loved ones, those six trapped miners. So this was really an unexpected and significant event that happened tonight. Let me just give you a sense of what was supposed to happen.

These rescuers were inside, had been working around the clock for about 11 days now, they were digging through the mine, essentially making a new cave to reach the six trapped miners.

It was about a 2,000-foot distance to reach the miners. They had only gone about 850 feet. It was a very slow process. It was very dangerous because of these continued seismic bumps.

And then outside the mine, there was another process going on, a drilling process to see if perhaps they could look down a hole in a sense and see if, in fact, these miners were alive.

Well, they had drilled three holes. They were in the process of drilling a fourth hole to see if they could locate these miners. So two operations going forward, the drilling and then the horizontal push inside.

And then again at 6:30 -- a little after 6:30 this evening, you had this significant accident, if you will, where nine people were injured, three of whom lost their lives, Tony.

HARRIS: Well, Dan, you know what, maybe we should take a moment here and sort of -- you hinted at, I think, what is going to be the question moving forward now. Have we gotten to a place with this operation with this mountain where there really has to be some serious thought given as to whether or not you continue to devote resources?

Whether you continue to put these brave rescue teams into that mine to try and retrieve and to try to recover, rescue the trapped miners? We are at that critical moment, aren't we?

SIMON: No question about it. And once the dust settles, if you will, after this horrible, horrible tragedy tonight, that question will have to be asked. Clearly this mine is not safe. You have had two catastrophic incidents inside that mine.

The first one, which occurred last Monday. And you still have six trapped miners inside, and the second one today, with three fatalities, that mine is not safe, Tony. No question about it. And so the question becomes, do you completely halt efforts to rescue those six miners?

And that, no doubt, will be a conversation that will take place tomorrow, and a very difficult conversation that the officials will have to have.

HARRIS: OK. Dan Simon, we are going to let you go for a few moments and let you continue to do your reporting. Let's get to Kara Finnstrom at the local hospital in Price, Utah.

And, Kara, how difficult an evening has it been for everyone in that community, everyone in that hospital, and certainly the families who have been rushing to that hospital to find out the latest information on the condition of their loved ones?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is just heartbreaking for these families, Tony. For 11 days now they had been holding onto hope. And just when they started to get some good news, possibly some good news and some noises were picked up yesterday and these miners -- the rescue workers went back in really hoping that they could possibly reach these miners alive -- those six trapped miner, now this happens.

This is the hospital, right behind me, we are some 45 minutes from where the mine is where six of the rescue workers and MSHA workers that were hurt tonight were brought. One of those brought here died after being brought here. One of them was airlifted to another hospital. One was sent home, was treated and sent home. So that was some good news.

At last report, three of them were still being treated here. Two of them with very serious injuries -- two of them with serious injuries and one with very serious injuries. Now also here earlier tonight, Tony, a lot of the other mining families were coming by here.

They were so concerned because they had heard about what had happened up at the mine, many of them probably had seen the ambulances going back and forth, but they didn't know who had been hurt. And so many of them have family members up there involved in this rescue effort.

So they were coming here, trying to get word of who had been hurt, what the status was of these people. Somebody with the city council came and told us that they actually asked all of the miners to please come down the hill. All the miners involved with the rescue efforts, and let their loved ones -- let their family know that they're OK.

So that was the last that we had heard, again, that three are being treated here. Two with serious injuries and one with a very serious injury. One other note, Tony, we are told that the governor should be appearing here in about 15 to 20 minutes, possibly, for a press conference.

HARRIS: And that is Jon Huntsman, Kara?


HARRIS: One quick question, how -- my goodness, this is -- this absolutely has to be devastating for this community. We are talking about Huntington. We are talking about price and the other surrounding communities. What has been -- and we know it has been amazing, the kind of outpouring from the community for the families. What have you seen over the last few days?

FINNSTROM: You know, every night that we have been here, there has been some type of prayer vigil or fundraiser, some type of getting together of this community, and a real outpouring of support, money collected. There is also another fundraiser set for tomorrow.

We also even had people here, family members that are so worried, bringing food to the media and thanking us for, you know, staying here and continuing to bring information. It has just been an amazing outpouring by this community to try and support both the rescue workers still in the mine and to support these families.

They are exhausted. So I just can't even imagine how they are feeling tonight when they had just started to get maybe a little bit of hope. And then this just horrible, horrible development tonight.

HARRIS: All right. Kara Finnstrom for us, Price, Utah. Kara, appreciate it. Thank you. We'll get back to you shortly.

Our affiliates are also on the scene as well. We will be dipping into their live coverage throughout the evening. KTVX spoke to one eyewitness about the bounce.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was off duty; I had just finished my shift and was leaving the bathhouse when Comspeak (ph) and all the bosses started yelling about a bounce that had happened and caved in the mine. They knew about five miners that had been buried. And by the time we were leaving, one they had in their truck and was beginning CPR.

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

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

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Don (ph), you were saying that you were working there; you were off shift. Did you experience any commotion inside the mines this afternoon, as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I was, you know, mostly just in the beltline doing stuff like shoveling. I didn't really get that close to the face (ph) since I'm not that an experienced miner.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we just stayed all busy, and when the shift was over, we left.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we were told just to go home and wait it out.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it just makes you think about what you are doing in life and what could happen to you, and mining, how dangerous it is. And you are worried about all of those other people because of their families and what they are leaving behind. It is just really hard to think about it.


HARRIS: And just another reminder, we are expected to hear from Utah's governor, Jon Huntsman, shortly. And when we see him make his appearance at the command center, we will, of course, take you there live to hear his comments, his remarks this evening.

Earlier tonight, our Anderson Cooper spoke to the director of the United Mine Workers. Here is part of his discussion with Dennis O'Dell.


DENNIS O'DELL, SAFETY & HEALTH DIRECTOR, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA: As the miners advance into the mine, we have had to take -- they have had to take -- the rescue workers have had to take a lot of precautions, as far as additional support for the top. They have had to put chain-link fence and wire ropes and posts against the sides.

And everybody knows that there has been activity. We get mountain bumps in this area. And that is going to continue to happen based on -- if you look at the mine map, based on the surrounding areas where the rescue work is taking place. There is little left to support the top.

So any activity, as far as mountainous bumps go, it's going to make that top unstable. So, it's very, very possible that while these rescue workers were removing the rock, that another mountain bump could have taken place, another -- and it could have pushed up.

I mean, we just don't know. These posts that you saw that are set as roof support, are rated to hold the roof. But it's not like the solid block of coal that was in there originally. This is manmade material that we use all the time. Yet, they can also fail. So it is possible that that may have occurred. Our hopes are that it didn't.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: Dennis O'Dell there, United Mine Workers of America. We are going to take a break. Just another reminder that shortly we were expecting to hear from Utah's governor, Jon Huntsman. When we see him, we will take that briefing, that news conference live for you as we continue to cover the events -- the tragic events of this evening.

Another bump, a seismic event, a bounce, whatever the terminology has led to the deaths of three rescue workers at the Crandall Canyon Mine there in Huntington, Utah. Again, we are awaiting word from the governor of Utah. When we get that, we will take it to you live.

Right now, let's take a quick break, we are back in a moment.


HARRIS: And good evening, again, everyone. Thank you for joining us for our continuing coverage of this most recent tragic event at the Crandall Canyon Mine, another underground bump has led to the deaths of three rescue workers this evening.

Our Gary Tuchman is the only national reporter that has been allowed inside the Crandall Canyon Mine. He has been in Utah since the initial mine collapse 10 days ago. He talked to our Anderson Cooper a short time ago.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What is a mountain bump and what does it feel like?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A mountain bump occurs, Anderson, when the pillars -- the coal pillars that support the top of the mine experienced weight and they literally explode from the weight above.

There is a lot of weight above this mine. This is a very deep mine, particularly compared -- you when you're talking about Sago, you were talking about the miners being trapped about 200 feet below ground level. These miners are trapped 1,800 to 1,900 feet below ground level.

So there is a lot of mountain on top of it. So this type of mountain, and particularly mountains out West are vulnerable to mountain bumps. But it feels -- Anderson, it does feel like an earthquake, which you would imagine an earthquake to feel like, I guess which is especially relevant now considering the other big story we are covering in Peru, talking about that.

But it is frightening in that way that you feel the mine shaking. And you can also hear like a -- it almost sounds like a concussion bomb that you would hear during a war. It just went boom. I shook and I thought coal was going to start falling down. That is how powerful I thought it was (INAUDIBLE) in the mine.

Bob Murray, the owner of the mine, told us this was a relatively small one. But this is something they have been experiencing since this rescue has been taking place. It is important to point out that there was a full two days -- if I'm not mistaken, Tuesday and Wednesday, where they stopped all activity inside the mine because they were getting so many of these mountain bumps, and it was considered too dangerous for the minors to be there.

Now none of us pooh-poohed that. We realized that the mountain bumps were happening and that it was dangerous, and these guys were taking risks. But now to hear this has happened, it just -- it really feels like a nightmare.

COOPER: We are going to actually rack up Gary's piece. You're seeing images from -- some of the images that Gary had took -- had taken days ago when he got access to the mine. We are going to actually show you that piece in entirety. And in that piece, you will actually hear this mountain bump. You will hear it and get a sense of what it feels like, what it sounds like.

Let's roll that piece.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We entered the Crandall Canyon Mines with the same tunnel the six trapped workers went through. A three-mile journey in a small truck that would take about a half hour, in utter darkness. We passed rescue workers in their vehicles on the way to our ultimate destination.

ROBERT MURRAY, PRES. & CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORP.: Right there is where the rescue effort is going on.

TUCHMAN: This is as far as we could go. This is where the mine had collapsed. The six trapped miners are believed to be tantalizingly close. But with tons of coal separating them from us, this was an unusual opportunity to see how much work rescue workers still have.

You're looking at the effort to drill into the coal and rock to rescue the six men. The machine is called a continuing mining vehicle. It has a spinning drum on the front of it with blades. It cuts into the coal, rock and other debris that is mixed in from the mine collapse and then deposited on the back of what's known as a shuttle car, which can transport 12 tons of coal at a time.

The coal is sent on a conveyer belt outside the mine. And the process continues over and over and over again, far below the surface of the Earth.

MURRAY: Where the damage is here, we are about 2,000 feet deep.

TUCHMAN: But the process had to stop for almost two days because of seismic activity that has shaken up the mine and made it too dangerous for rescue workers. The work to get to the miners originally began at a different point of the mine.

MURRAY: We had this cleaned up 310 feet. The machinery is still in there. TUCHMAN: But another shift in the earth caused another partial collapse. And the cleared area filled with coal again.

(on camera): Frankly, it's very eerie standing here knowing that 2,000 feet behind me and maybe less are the six trapped miners. It is cold. It is dark. It is foreboding. A claustrophobic can never cut in here. There is a steady wind blowing. The ceilings are low. We are 30 minutes away from the nearest exit.

In normal times it is very stressful, but right now there is a lot of tension. Nevertheless, the workers here -- the rescue workers, the people who normally work in the mine, are calm because they have a job to do.


HARRIS: Boy, Gary Tuchman. I can recall talking to Gary about that over the weekend, being in that mine at the time of that bump. And he admitted how frightening it was, and that moment of looking around to everyone else and not getting much reassurance from everyone else so that there was a sense of real fear among everyone in that mine at the time of that bump.

Just want to update the latest information that we have. Three dead, six injured, a total of nine in all in the event this evening, that most recent underground seismic event, another bump that has led to the deaths of three of the rescue workers trying to save those six trapped miners underground now for 10, 11 days. Let's get back to that hospital. It is Castleview Hospital in Price, Utah. There she is, Kara Finnstrom.

And, Kara, I understand that once word started to circulate that there was another event, it was literally all hands on deck at that hospital.

FINNSTROM: It certainly was. They brought in more staff. All of their staff, they say, is here now, rushed in here to try and help these additional rescue crews and some MSHA workers that were hurt.

You know, they went from talking about "our six," the six miners trapped, and praying for them, worrying about them for the last 11 days, to now having nine more people hurt. And now we know three of them have died in this latest accident up at the mine.

This is the hospital here, some 45 minutes away from the mine where the ambulance came first. It's the local hospital. Ambulance kept coming down. People from throughout the community started coming here, trying to get out word -- trying to get word about who these miners were and what their condition was.

We have learned that there are three miners -- rescue crews, we don't know if they are miners, we should say, or if they are MSHA workers that have continued to be treated here. The last update we had on their condition was that two of them were in serious condition, one in very serious condition. And earlier as all of these folks from throughout the community were coming here, trying to get word, the mining community actually asked all of those rescue workers up there up on top of the hill to please come down and let their family and their loved ones know that they were OK.

Really just trying to get the word out, because these families obviously, Tony, very stressed. They have been on edge for the last 11 days and now this.

HARRIS: Well, we are just trying to imagine some of the injuries. I would imagine we are talking about trauma injuries: head, chest, perhaps broken bones as well. Is that what you are hearing?

FINNSTROM: Yes. We did hear from the CEO of this hospital earlier. And he said they have been trained -- a lot of their has been trained to deal with mining accidents. But he said the type of accidents they will deal with here locally include broken bones, include some minor head injuries, cuts, scrapes, bruises, those type of things, but that the really serious injuries they are going to have to airlift out of here.

And we did see earlier tonight two helicopters leaving out of here. We know at least one person was airlifted to another hospital in Provo where there was some better treatment available for them.

HARRIS: Hey, Kara, are you expecting to hear anything else from officials at that particular hospital tonight?

FINNSTROM: We believe we will. They came out. They gave us a very -- you know, a brief update. And they said once there was more word they would be coming out. And again, the governor expected to come here as well, probably within the next 10 minutes we are told.

HARRIS: Was the mayor -- I think there was -- was there -- one of the mayors from one of the surrounding towns was also there and participated in that news conference as well.

FINNSTROM: He was. And one of the things that he said that struck me and it just really drives home how impacted this community is, is that he lost his father in a mining accident...

HARRIS: That is right. That is right.

FINNSTROM: Yes. So you know, everyone here knows what this is all about. They are all very closely connected to this mining community.

HARRIS: OK. Kara Finnstrom for us. Kara, appreciate it. Thank you. We will check back in with you shortly.

And once again we are standing by, waiting to get word of a news conference that should be happening shortly with the governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman. In the meantime, let's listen to Price, Utah, Mayor Joe Piccolo. That is from earlier this evening. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, have you been talking to the families or the people at the hospital?

MAYOR JOE PICCOLO, PRICE, UTAH: Yes. I have talked with the families.

QUESTION: What is the mood like?

PICCOLO: The mood is very hopeful, of course, to make certain that as many of the survivors that can be reached and talked to and satisfied, families missing their fathers and brothers and sons. It is a hopeful mood inside the hospital.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the strain on your community that this has been?

PICCOLO: Well, Carbon County and Emery County have been no stranger to these types of disasters over the many years of the energy extraction in our area. And it is one of cooperation, fund-raising, helpfulness, lend a hand. It is a very stressful part of a way of life that has been known here for many, many years, a hundred years, perhaps.

QUESTION: And where were you tonight when you got the news about the latest collapse?

PICCOLO: I was eating some macaronis and cheese at the dinner table.

QUESTION: What went through your mind?

PICCOLO: I beg your pardon?

QUESTION: What went through your mind when you heard about that?

PICCOLO: Immediately get here and help, provide the support that Mr. Manley would need in a time of organization and stress, to help the families realize the best possible results.

QUESTION: But this has to be crushing to this area, is it not?

PICCOLO: It has to be crushing to whom?

QUESTION: To people in this area. I mean...

PICCOLO: It is a devastating blow to what was already a tragic situation, yes.

QUESTION: How did you find out about the accident?

PICCOLO: It is a small community and word travels very fast. And it is a very helpful community, as I might add. We were notified by the chief of police personally. But the word spreads pretty fast in our community. And the helpful hand that is available comes forward immediately.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, have you felt a personal touch to this?

PICCOLO: Yes, I do.


PICCOLO: Fifty years ago or so, my father was killed in the coal mine. There is many of us in the community that share that same personal touch. I also feel responsible for the energy and the impact that these types of things might have, social impacts, particularly. So I have a personal touch as well as an interest from an elected view.

QUESTION: What is it like then talking to the family members tonight that are at the hospital?

PICCOLO: It is hopeful. The feeling that is there is hopeful, hopeful that there will be full recovery and that they can resume their positions in the community and in families. So (INAUDIBLE) hope.

QUESTION: Did you get a chance to talk to the family of the deceased miner? Is he from Price? Do you know anything about this person or their family?

PICCOLO: Obviously, the name can't and won't be released until the mine has that information available. But I did have an opportunity to visit with them, and nothing more that can be said about that.

QUESTION: Can you say his age? I mean, older or younger miner?

PICCOLO: I believe that information would probably be best released by those who are in authority to release it. And my position is one of support from the community in the terms of emergency medical treatment and those kinds of things to assist that to happen.

QUESTION: What do you tell these families in a situation like this? Obviously...

PICCOLO: There is nothing that can be said. It only can be shared, the grief, the sympathy and sharing the grief in a moment of collapse.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, do you know about anything that was happening in the mine and what was happening...


PICCOLO: I do not. I know that it was a continued effort to rescue the trapped miners. But I know nothing more than that.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, is this a pretty tightly knit community that comes together in times like this? PICCOLO: Yes. I'm very proud to tell you that this is the best place in the world to have an emergency take place. We are a very tight-knit, cooperative community that shares each other's pain, shares each other's joys and sorrows. It is a wonderful place to be.

QUESTION: Mayor, do you think that this community will have to be doing something tomorrow because of the deceased?

PICCOLO: I'm certain there will be many efforts brought forward, again, there is plans for a fund-raiser to take place Saturday night in our Peace Garden downtown to assist everyone involved with the rescue operation. And I'm certain that there will be other plans for both -- there are two members that were involved in the cave that are from Price City as well as some from Helper. So yes, there will be additional efforts, I'm sure.

QUESTION: What is the condition of the mine right now?

PICCOLO: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What is the condition of the mine right now?

PICCOLO: I have no knowledge of that that is not already publicized.

QUESTION: You were saying two of the men that were injured tonight are from Price?

PICCOLO: No. One is missing that is entrapped.


PICCOLO: And others as well, so.

QUESTION: Any final thoughts to leave with the public about what these miners go through and kind of what their character is?

PICCOLO: What the miners go through? I have no final thoughts of that, but my final thought would be for all of us to pray earnestly from our hearts for those who need comfort in their times of need and for the healing process to take a quick as role as it can, that the families might resume normal activities, go back to an unstressed way of life.

I pray that we find those who are trapped and that release comes quickly. That would be my final word.


HARRIS: How about those sentiments from Joe Piccolo, the mayor of Price, Utah. Huntington, Price, mining towns, mining communities. These people know how dangerous the work can be in those mountains, in those mines, extracting that coal. He talked about how personal this is for him this evening, the loss of his father in a mine some 50 years ago. And now here he is this evening trying to provide aid and comfort to the families of the three rescue workers, killed this evening in addition to the six others injured, some with some serious injuries.

If you would like to offer some assistance, if have been moved, touched by what you have seen in this 11 days, in the efforts to rescue the trapped miners, if you have been moved by what you have seen in terms of the efforts from the rescue workers trying to save them and a move by their loss, the loss among their ranks this evening, let me direct you to

There is a family fund that has been set up, and if you go to, you can get more information about the fund. If you would like to contribute, there is an opportunity, information there that will allow you to do just that.

There you see the page, go to if you would like to impact your world in a meaningful way and help the families not only the trapped miners, the families of the rescue workers who have been killed this evening, how about those who are still game in the fight to try to rescue those miners? If you would like to help them, there is a way that you can do that,, once again, slash- impactyourworld.

I want to remind you once again that we are standing by -- 2:32 a.m. Eastern time, we are standing by waiting for a news conference from the governor of Utah. His name is Jon Huntsman. When that begins, and we do expect to begin momentarily, we will, of course, bring that to you live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But first we will take a break and we will come back with our continuing coverage in a moment.


HARRIS: Want to show you some new video just in to CNN. These are pictures from earlier this evening of a Life Flight helicopter, Utah Valley Medical Center? OK. Great. Life Flight helicopter shot here of one of the victims being taken to Utah Valley Medical Center for treatment, giving you a sense that -- just how serious the injuries sustained by some of these men in that mine were this evening.

That, obviously, a level one trauma center there in Provo, Utah. I want to bring in CNN's Dan Simon. And, Dan, boy, you have been covering this from the very beginning. A couple of things come to mind right now as we think back over the events of this evening.

First of all, I can recall -- I'm not sure if it was in your reporting, maybe it was in Brian Todd's reporting, that there was a group of miners rescue workers who were actually concerned about these underground seismic bumps and essentially asked to be taken off of rescue duty.

SIMON: Yes. Brian Todd was reporting that, that there were about a dozen of these rescue workers who apparently expressed some concern about the conditions inside the mine. They were concerned about the physical conditions and also I know some of them were related to the miners so there were some emotional concerns as well.

And apparently they asked to be taken out of the mix, if you will, and were no longer part of this effort -- Tony.

HARRIS: And so we get to the point, we factor that in, just that information and that sense from those rescue workers that something was not quite right in the effort and something not quite right with what they were feeling underground. And then you get this event this evening.

And I know that there was a point at least last week when there was an open express by folks connected officially to the mining operation there that there might come a point when there would need to be some kind of an assessment as to whether or not you could actually continue the rescue effort.

SIMON: Well, that is exactly right. And as a matter of fact, there were a couple of times last week where the rescuers experienced these seismic bumps and the operation, if you will, had to be halted for a brief time. And Bob Murray was very adamant when he took to the microphones and said, look, we are not going to jeopardize the safety of these rescuers, we will proceed when it is safe.

Well, apparently he thought things were safe. And they were inside today and they continued to make a little bit of headway. They had only gone about 850 feet so far in totality. They had a total of 2,000 feet to reach these miners. So about 1,200 feet or so to go. But no question the conditions inside that mine, Tony, I think we can safely say it is not safe in there.

HARRIS: And so let's sort of recap that we understand the situation inside the mountain, inside the mine, but let's sort of pull back for a moment and just sort of reset where we are right now.

We have drilled one hole, dropped the microphone down, no sign of life. What are we up to now? Drilling on a fourth borehole, aren't we?

SIMON: That is right. You know, this operation was really twofold, the drilling of the holes and currently they are on their fourth hole, and the purpose of the holes is essentially to see if these six miners are alive. And if they are alive, it provides an opening -- literally an opening to pass through life-saving materials: food, water, and oxygen.

So far, crews have not been successful in locating the miners through those holes. You know, yesterday there was some excitement when crews put down what is called a geophone, Tony. And that is essentially a microphone that you put down the mountain to see if they could pick up any sounds.

And guess what, they did. The owner of the mine, Bob Murray, called it a significant development. And then today we discovered -- or at least they said that perhaps that sound was meaningless, that it could have been an elk or thunder or water, any one of those things. And so they were really kind of downplaying the significance of that sound.

So in terms of where we are, you have the holes that are progressing. Now they are on the fourth hole. And really, the key to this whole operation was the horizontal dig, if you will, which is what they were doing today.

HARRIS: That is right. Yes. But you know, I had heard that there was at least some thought that this might be the last borehole dug. Have you heard anything to that effect, that they are essentially trying to find them, trying to find where they are, you dig the borehole, you drop the geophone down for some kind of sound, some kind of proof of life?

And then you drop the camera down and get that horizontal and that vertical view. Are they running out of options in terms of where they might drill and where they might be?

SIMON: That is a good question. You know, when we have asked that question to Bob Murray during the news conferences, he essentially says every time they drill a new hole, it gives them new data on where to put the next hole.

And the fourth hole that they started digging today was in direct relation to this sound that they heard. They thought, OK, well, we think we have an idea where this sound is, let's go ahead and put our hole right there. And so that is what they did.

Now in terms of whether or not they were going to a fifth hole, if the fourth hole is unsuccessful, we haven't heard anything about that. But I can tell you at least right now, this operation has come to a complete halt because of this catastrophic incident you had tonight.

We talked about this earlier, Tony. But essentially the question becomes for Mr. Murray and for the other mining officials is, can you go forward with this operation? Can you go forward with this rescue now that obviously it has been found that the conditions inside that mine are absolutely unsafe.

HARRIS: Yes, yes. Dan Simon for us. Dan appreciate it. And we will check back in with you in just a couple of moments.

But right now we are standing by, waiting for a news conference to begin with the governor of Utah, Governor Jon Huntsman. Again, once that begins, we will bring it to you live. We will take a quick break and continue with our coverage of this evening's latest setback.

What a tragedy, another one, for this community, the community of Huntington, the community of Price. Three rescue workers killed trying to rescue the six trapped miners, an underground seismic event, another bump has resulted in the deaths of three rescue workers. We will take a break and will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone. I'm Tony Harris at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. We are just following the latest mine rescue disaster news for you this evening. At least three -- as you can see there at the bottom of your screen, three rescuers killed, six others hurt in that underground seismic bump this evening. We want to take you back out to Castleview Hospital in nearby Price, Utah. Kara Finnstrom is there.

And, Kara, we are certainly saddened by the news of the three deaths and the injured. But my goodness, there is a bit of good news here in that one person, we understand, was treated and actually released this evening.

FINNSTROM: Yes. Some good news coming out of this hospital. This is where they brought all of these rescue workers initially. The ambulances coming here, we are about 45 minutes away from the mine. One of those rescue workers, we are told, was treated and released. So that is some very good news for that family.

We are told three remain in the hospital, being treated. Two of those in serious condition, one in very serious condition. One of the rescue workers that brought here -- was brought here, died shortly after being brought here. He is one of the three that has died. And one of the others was airlifted to another hospital.

This hospital here can treat things like broken bones, what we are told are minor head injuries and other types of things. But when it gets to be a really serious head injury, they say these miners need to be airlifted to a trauma center that is really trained to deal with that.

HARRIS: Yes. That is not a level one trauma center where you are now, is it?

FINNSTROM: No. It is not. Although they brought in all of their staff here tonight and obviously are really -- they are part of this community are working to hopefully help some of these miners that have been brought here and rescue workers.

But, yes. They stress that. You know, they do receive special training to work with mining accidents, but more along the lines of broken bones.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes, it makes sense. Hey, Kara, stand by, we are just getting word that Governor Huntsman has decided to call off the news conference that was scheduled for -- well, to begin any minute now. He has called that off.

And it looks like that is kind of the pattern of the evening so far. We thought initially we would get another briefing on the situation from mine officials, maybe Bob Murray, maybe Richard Stickler, but that is not going to happen in the overnight hours when we heard, oh, a short time ago that we were going to hear from the governor.

It looks like, Kara, that folks are just sort of taking in the information, taking a moment to sort through it, and that perhaps everyone will wait and provide a more comprehensive statement in the hours to come, probably in the morning.

FINNSTROM: Yes. We have been speaking with some of the city council members here who are really working to get word out throughout this community. They do tell us that these new nine -- the families of the nine affected in this latest accident have been called together. We don't know where they are gathering.

But they do tell us that they have been called together and that some clergy members are being brought in to council to them. So now they are not only dealing with this -- the original families of the six trapped miners, but also the families of these nine hurt, and three of them killed in this latest accident.

HARRIS: I know we know how to do this in this country, we know how to give support. But I'm always amazed at how quickly the support systems are put into place. They mobilize and are there. And so even this evening, you are telling us that support efforts are already in place, already being mobilized and on the way to help the folks at the hospital. That is terrific.

FINNSTROM: They are. That is correct. We spoke with a couple of city council members who say that that -- that they are already trying mobilize and...

HARRIS: That is great.

FINNSTROM: And you know, we have seen every night since we have been here, prayer vigils. One other thing, Tony.


FINNSTROM: One of the things I got from one of the family members here was, it was a person who was just well-connected to this mine, it gives you an idea of how connected this community is, she handed me this piece of paper and she said: "I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter, mother, wife, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, aunt, cousin, sister-in-law, neighbor and friend."

This one woman with all of these connections to miners in this community. So it gives you an idea of just how close this community is. Everyone here impacted in one way or another by these two accidents, these two tragedies.

HARRIS: So it is that zero degrees of separation for those communities. We talk about Huntington. We talk about Price. And you mentioned and we -- it was a perfect segue for us to play a bit of the sound from Mayor Joe Piccolo talking about how devastated the community is and how it -- essentially the community is beating with one heart tonight, everyone feeling the pain and anguish of the families who have lost loved ones this evening, and for the families of the rescue workers who are injured this evening.

FINNSTROM: They truly are. And they have a better feel for this than any of us do, because they have been through it before. The woman who gave me this piece of paper said, you know, as slow and as painstaking as this has been, trying to reach these miners that are trapped, she says when she was a young woman, none of this technology was around.

They wouldn't be able to drill this other -- these other boreholes and try and get down there. So she said they are taking some hope and some faith out of that. But again, tonight, just overwhelming for them, just at the point where they were hoping to make some progress.

HARRIS: Kara Finnstrom for us. Kara, appreciate it. We will check back in with you shortly. Thank you.

Once again, here are the names of the six trapped miners, Luis Alonso (ph) Hernandez, Manuel Sanchez, Kerry Allred, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips, and Don Erickson.

Let's hear firsthand from a person on the scene of the seismic bump. Here is the conversation Anderson Cooper had with Donnie Leonard.


COOPER: Donnie, what can you tell us, what did you see, what did you hear?

DONNIE LEONARD, EYEWITNESS: When I was at the mine, I was bleeding, and I could hear Comspeak (ph) yelling over the phone about a collapse that had happened in the mine and they had known about five miners that had been trapped underneath the new collapse.

They had mine rescue teams running to get to the mantrips with their respirators. Very chaotic. The cops were getting the area cleared so that there was no obstructions toward the people trying to transport those men out of there.

COOPER: How long -- how far away were the men in the mine, do you have any idea?

LEONARD: I do not know. All I know is that there was a collapse at the base. Base is at crosscut (ph) 126. I'm not completely positive on that.

COOPER: OK. Well, we only want to you say what you know. So don't worry about -- you know, feel free to say what you don't know, it is absolutely OK. You -- and did other miners then -- rescue miners, come to the scene?

LEONARD: You know, this collapse happened about the time the crews were getting ready to switch over. The crew involved, I believe, was hotseating (ph), waiting for the other crew to arrive so they could leave to go home.

COOPER: And what was the scene like when word got out that this accident had occurred? LEONARD: Well, people were running everywhere, getting all the stretchers and the supplies that they needed ready. People were waiting at mantrips so they could go in there and get these men out. We heard Comspeak (ph) talking about how they had one man onsite, giving CPR, on the way out of the mine.

COOPER: And I know you and your cousin offered to help, but they felt they had the people they needed?

LEONARD: Yes. They said that they had all of the trained personnel that they needed, and that we were just to sit tight and head home, get some rest, so we could get ready for our shift in the morning.

COOPER: You are a mine helper. How long you have been working at the mine?

LEONARD: Well, I have been working at Crandall for a couple of days. I have been in the mine since -- for about three weeks.

COOPER: So relatively new compared to some of these guys who have been there for a long time. What -- I don't want to ask, how does this make you feel, because that is just a stupid question. But I mean, what is it like seeing this kind of thing for someone who is just -- you know, just kind of starting in the business?

LEOONARD: It is scary. It makes you think about the career you have taken and what you are going to do. You know, you have got to think about what is going on around you and try to imagine how it is going to feel for these families when they find out this tragedy has happened.

COOPER: Well, yes, I mean, you have got to think it is just -- it is going to be a terrible night for a lot of families just waiting to hear how their loved ones and their friends and their neighbors are doing.


HARRIS: Donnie Leonard, an eyewitness to that seismic underground bump that resulted in the deaths of three rescue workers.

So what happens now? Moving forward, what are you thinking? What happens with the Crandall Canyon Mine? Do you continue to operate it? Do you shut it down? Do you shut it down before you get the trapped miners out? Do you risk continuing with rescue efforts right now?

With one seismic event, one bump after another now being registered, what do you do? How do you move forward here? We told you that Governor Huntsman was scheduled to hold a news conference. He has called that off.

We thought earlier in the evening that we might hear from Richard Stickler. We thought we might hear from Bob Murray. That is not going to happen in these overnight hours. Clearly there is intense consultations going on right now as to the answer to that question -- those series of questions. Where do you go with this mine right now? Where do you go with this rescue effort? What do you do at this point in time?

And what about these seismic bumps? We are going to get you a better explanation of exactly what they are, how they occur. Our Chad Myers and Dan Simon will explain that to you right after the break. We will continue our coverage of tonight's events right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Three a.m. Eastern time, midnight Pacific. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

We mentioned just a short time ago as we continue to cover the mine rescue disaster that the governor of Utah had planned a news conference this evening. That has been called off. But we have just received a statement from the governor's office.