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Continued Coverage of Second Utah Mining Accident

Aired August 17, 2007 - 03:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That has been called off. But we have just received a statement from the governor's office.
I want to bring Dan Simon in -- and, Dan, I want you to listen to this, because this cuts right to the heart of what we've been discussing most of the evening.

Governor Huntsman says: "There is nothing more selfless than giving one's life while rescuing another. We have witnessed a remarkable act of selflessness. Whatever happens from now on, all I ask on behalf of all Utahans is that we have no more injuries. We have been through enough. We must ensure, from this day forward, every lesson learned here will go toward improving safety in mines, not only in Utah, but throughout the United States. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families."

That is the statement from Governor Huntsman. And it cuts to the heart of what has been a major discussion point for us this evening, Dan. It is this question of where do you -- how do you move forward here and can you continue to put human resources into that mine in an effort to rescue trapped miners, keeping in mind that there has been no sign of life these 10, 11 days now?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: that's a good question, Tony.

You know, I wish I had the answer. I don't know what you do in a situation like this. I mean, clearly, this mine is not safe. But you have six miners who are still in there and it's possible that they're still alive.

And so the fact is, you know, can you continue to send in rescuers around the clock and continue to try to make headway in those efforts.

It really is so tricky and I just don't know what you do at this point, Tony.


SIMON: It's not -- it's not safe to be in there.

HARRIS: And, Dan, but we do know is that the effort has been suspended, correct?

SIMON: Well, it -- no question, it has been suspended as of this moment because all of the rescuers we know have been pulled out. This has been a 24-7 operation, really, since it began about 11 days ago and tonight, after this horrific accident, if you will, occurred, we know that all of the rescuers were pulled out.

And for this community, it really is so devastating. You know, I had a chance to -- to drive around today, go to various parts of the area. And just about everywhere you look, there is a sign, you know, up at the school or something like that. It'll say, "God bless our miners." "Take care of our miners." You know, "Let's thank our rescuers."


SIMON: Just really, you know, genuine sentiments of affection for both the miners and the rescuers. And now that you have this incident occurred, it's really troubling, obviously, for the families of these miners, because they're dealing with the grief not knowing if their loved ones are still alive and also now dealing with this, these heroes, if you will.

HARRIS: Dan, well let me...


HARRIS: ...let me jump in for just a moment there, Dan...


HARRIS: ...because we're just past the top of the hour, and for folks who are just joining us, why don't you give us a bit of a reset of what has -- what has happened, what has occurred this evening.


Well, it was just a little after 6:30 p.m. Local time where the crews on the ground got an inkling that something had happened. We saw some ambulances race by us toward the mine.

I am standing -- there is this road behind me and you see a car going -- a truck.


SIMON: By the way, we still continue to see traffic going to and from a mine.

But in any case, we saw some ambulances take this road over here, go to the mine, which is about two miles away. A total of six ambulances raced toward us. Over the next few hours, we continued to get some numbers, in terms of the amount of victims and fatalities. And over the course of a few hours we learned that three people, three rescuers, had, in fact, lost their lives.

Obviously, there was a significant amount of activity here when this occurred.

We have not seen Bob Murray since this happened. Bob Murray, of course, the co-owner of this mine, who has really been the face of this story since this happened last Monday. But it's 1:00 -- 1:00 a.m. Local time now and there's still activity here. Nobody, obviously, has gone to sleep -- Tony.

HARRIS: Yes, you talked about this -- this significant underground seismic event. We've also heard the word bump used, as well.

You talked to Chad Myers, I understand, and you've got a better understanding of what this bump really is, what it's all about and the kind of event it can trigger.

SIMON: I just spoke to an official with the Utah National Resources. She just arrived at the scene. She told me that there was a bump or some significant seismic activity in the mine and some rescuers were injured.

Of course, Mr. Murray has been talking about these bumps and these episodes of seismic activity all week. And apparently there was another episode just a short time ago. And, of course, this resulted in some injuries.

We're still trying to get some more information, though.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Dan, keeping on what you're talking about, we are actually showing the seismic activity on a graph right now.

Chad Myers is joining us now, a severe weather expert -- Chad, what are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: What we're looking at is a helicorder. This is kind of a seismic recorder. But this is a digital one, I think, put on the Internet.

And the San Rafael Swell, about 50 miles from the mine itself, had a couple of bumps today, one about four hours ago. This one here not big enough to get bigger than a 1.0 on the magnitude. So it didn't show up on USGS.

But when we got digging down into the helicorders, we found one about four hours ago. And that one right there, that bump, was about 6:39 p.m. Local time, Utah time, so 8:39 Eastern time. And that was the biggest and the last bump that was around that mountain and around that helicorder.

So this is the one that we're assuming they're talking about, and it's a fairly large bump. It lasted about a minute. Every line that you see here is one minute. So the biggest shake, Anderson, was about 20 seconds and then it just rumbled for another 40 seconds. But that's the one that -- that caused this bump.

COOPER: And, Chad, what is the black bump that's above that?

MYERS: The same thing. This was four hours ago. And what they do, Anderson, I'll come across here -- this is 15:00, 16:00. This is local time. So we're talking about this black line is the first 15 minutes of that hour.

The red line is the next 15 minutes of that hour.

The blue line is the 30 minutes.

So this is 30, 35, all the way over to about 45 minutes.

And then the black line is the hour right on the hour itself.

So that's why that one is black and that one is blue is only because of what 15 minute period it fell in during the hour. That's all.

COOPER: So this was at 6:39 Utah time, you're saying?

MYERS: Yes, it was.

COOPER: OK. That corresponds to the hospital who we just talked to, who said they got -- their helicopters were dispatched around 7:00 p.m. So it would seem to correlate that the helicopters were dispatched some, about 20, 21 minutes after this -- the seismic bump.

And in terms of, I mean how, you know, looking at that chart, can you tell what would that feel like?

MYERS: No, you couldn't -- you couldn't tell whatsoever. Both of these are probably just rock bursts, little mine collapses. And so the whole mountain kind of shakes a little bit. Nothing -- nothing seismic when you're talking about two plates sliding against each other. You have so much pressure, from 1,500 feet of sandstone above this mine. And then all you have are these coal columns. Some of them are pretty big. But as they're compressing, you're breaking coal out from the middle. And that coal is shooting out and it's obviously caused some damage and injured some men there.

HARRIS: Pretty vivid.

Have you wondered what it's like to actually be inside a coal mine?

Dan, we will come back to you in just a moment, because I want to give folks a view of what it's like to be inside there. But that was -- that was pretty dramatic.

If you've wondered what it's like to be inside a coal mine, actually inside the mine, try these words on for size -- dark, cold and claustrophobic. That's how our Gary Tuchman describes conditions deep within the Crandall Canyon Coal Mine, where rescue teams were working, digging, grinding, drilling.

Gary is the only network reporter to go down there.

Here is his firsthand look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We entered the Crandall Canyon Mine through 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 pass rescue workers in their vehicles on the way to our ultimate destination. BOB MURRAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, MURRAY ENERGY CORPORATION: 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 and it has a spinning drum in 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 deposits it 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 conveyor 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're 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's cold. It's dark. It's foreboding. A claustrophobic could never cut it here. There is a steady wind blowing. The ceilings are low. We're 30 minutes away from the nearest exit. In normal times, it's very stressful. But right now there's 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. (voice-over): And take a look at what happens to our camera shot while we're in the mine. We hear a boom that shakes the mine and startles the workers, and especially us. The owner says it's another seismic event. One more and we evacuate. MURRAY: When the coal breaks away from the rib and just kind of lays there, we call that sloughage. TUCHMAN: But there are no more. We do see other damage to the mine walls caused by the initial collapse, but it's the feverish work to rescue six men dead or alive that stays in our minds. MURRAY: This rubble could extend -- well, we know it goes 300 feet because we were up there. But it may go another 100 feet and stop and we can just walk up to the men or they may be right there. TUCHMAN: Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it's keeping these rescue workers going. Gary Tuchman, CNN, in the Crandall Canyon Mine, Utah. (END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: And now the rescue effort suspended for those six trapped miners because of the events last evening, seismic events, another bump underground in the Crandall Canyon Mine. Three rescue workers killed, another six injured.

A statement a short time ago from Governor Huntsman of Utah.

A key section of that statement: Whatever happens from now on, all I ask on behalf of all Utahans is that we have no more injuries. We have been through enough. We must ensure that from this day forward, every lesson learned here will go toward improving safety in mines, not only in Utah, but throughout the United States."

Just a portion of the statement from Utah's governor.

We are going to talk to Pat Reavy of the "Deseret News," joining us from Price, Utah, shortly.

But first, let's take a break. More of NEWSROOM and our continuing coverage, right after this.


HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone.

We want to read to you a bit of the statement -- let's read the whole thing -- from Governor Jon Huntsman, released less than 30 minutes ago: ""There is nothing more selfless than giving one's life while rescuing another. We have witnessed a remarkable act of selflessness. Whatever happens from now on, all I ask on behalf of all Utahans is that we have no more injuries. We have been through enough. We must ensure, from this day forward, every lesson learned here will go toward improving safety in mines, not only in Utah, but throughout the United States. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families."

If you're just joining us, here's what happened last evening. Now, this is a situation where the rescue effort for the six trapped miners was continuing n then there was another one of these bumps, one of these underground seismic events. There was some kind of cave-in or collapse. We don't know exactly what happened underground.

But the next thing you know, all kinds of injuries being reported, ambulances, as you can see here, mobilized to get up to that mountain. We later learned that three of the rescue workers had been killed in that event, in that episode.

With us now from Price, Utah, Pat Reavy of the "Deseret News".

Pat, good to see you.

Thanks for your time this morning.


HARRIS: we have to ask you what it is like to be on the ground as these events -- I'm assuming that you've been covering this story almost -- if not from the beginning, certainly close to the beginning. The kind of pressure now on mine officials, on Richard Stickler, to take some action here to come clean with everyone about the real safety of this rescue operation.

REAVY: Well, I think that's the big question now is what will happen with the rescue operation. I know there are people huddling here. Media-wise at the hospital. People are back up at the mine and just waiting for words from either Mr. Stickler or Bob Murray.

What now?

Will the rescue operation continue?

HARRIS: What now, yes.

REAVY: Will it not continue?

Will even the drilling continue?

I mean, of course, there's much media speculation. They were supposed to start drilling that fourth hole to find out if they could hear or see anything underneath the mine.

As I understand it, there's a press conference now scheduled for tomorrow, 11:00 Utah time, at which time, I'm sure a lot of these questions will be answered. I think the governor will be there. MSHA will be there. I'm sure Bob Murray will be there. And now the big question is will that rescue operation continue.

HARRIS: We don't -- we don't have an idea of the fate of the trapped miners and yet we have three rescue workers who are dead. I mean the irony of that is crazy. But I have to ask you, on the ground there, covering this story -- and I know the answer to it, but I just -- I just want your perspective from being there and talking to folks, how devastating is this news of the deaths last night?

REAVY: Well, of course, it's very devastating. And this is an area -- this county, you know, that's built on mining, built on coal mining. And mining disasters are nothing new here. They have tragedy, but somehow they seem to pull together n continue on and the mining doesn't stop despite the tragedies.

I've talked to several people here. In fact, just down the road from the hospital, there was this candlelight vigil that sprung up since this happened.

One of the people I talked to there, one of the ladies now -- and I'm not sure if their names have been released -- she says that one of the people who died last night in the incident is actually a cousin of one of the trapped miners.

Now, we haven't confirmed that yet, but that just makes a double tragedy for that family.

So I asked her, do you think the rescue efforts should continue?

And she said, amazingly, yes. It means that some of these families, there still has to be closure, I guess. And some of them feel the rescue efforts should continue. I talked to another woman. Her feelings are mixed. So I think you'll find a mixed reaction in the community. Some people feel yes, there has to be closure for these families. Others feel it's -- maybe it's not wroth it anymore. Maybe the mountain is telling them you're not going to get these bodies back.


So, at some point there needs to be a final chapter written on this, for folks to have that sense of closure. And then there is probably the push/pull of what you mentioned earlier, this being a mining community, this is how this community earns its keep, earns its living. And at some point, there needs to be some closure so that the people of that community can get back to the work that they do that sustains them.

REAVY: Right. And it's -- whether it's at this mine, which seems doubtful at this point...


REAVY: ...or other mines, you know, mining will continue in this community. Everything here is, you know, traces back to the community, whether you're directly a miner or not, whether you're the guy who's flipping burgers at the Burger King, the only reason you're there is because this whole community was built up around you from mining.

HARRIS: Yes. And, Pat, that is so interesting.

And remind us again, for anyone who might just be joining us, you're getting word that there will be a news conference, I'm imagining, with Richard Stickler; I'm imagining with the governor of Utah; also with Bob Murray.

What time are you hearing that that news conference is scheduled for?

REAVY: We're hearing 11:00 at the base of the mine, where there's been that base camp now for 11 days, 11:00 Mountain time.

HARRIS: You know, I was about to let you go, but I just have to ask you one more quick question.

What has your reporting -- what are you learning about the real safety issues -- fines, violations -- maybe more of the back story on that mining operation?

I mean it's probably worth, at this point, revisiting some of the information that perhaps you have learned in your reporting on the real conditions n the real safety record of the Crandall Canyon Mine.

REAVY: Right. You know, that hasn't been my expertise in this reporting. I've been more on the ground at the base of the mine for a week. I know other reporters have dug up information that, yes, this mine has violations. Now, of course, Mr. Murray, who owns the mine, he counters that some of those violations, as he calls it, were for forgetting to put toilet paper in the outhouse or something like that.

HARRIS: Yes, yes.

REAVY: So he says many of them were minor.

But to be honest, I just don't know to that extent of the disparity of some of those violations.

HARRIS: No, that's good.

Yes. That's good.

I just thought I'd maybe explore that with you.

But, Pat, I appreciate that.

Pat Reavy of the "Deseret News," joining us from Price, Utah.

Pat, appreciate your time.

Thank you.

REAVY: Thank you.

HARRIS: we are going to take a break. And, once again, just another reminder of that news conference now when, boy, we expect to -- to get an answer as to where we go from here. Pat mentioned it. We've heard it from Dan Simon and we've heard it from Kara Finnstrom -- where do we go from here?

Where do you go in terms of this rescue effort for the six trapped miners in the aftermath of this new tragedy?

Pat telling us just a moment ago in one of the conversations he had with someone connected to one of the families of one of the trapped miners, and perhaps one of the people who was killed last night, that they would like to see this individual -- they would like to see this rescue effort continue, that there needs to be some sense of closure, that the book has to be closed. The final chapter has to be written so that this community can move forward. It is a mining community, after all. And that work has to continue, perhaps not at the Crandall Canyon Mine, but that mining will continue in that community.

We will continue to work through the developments in this story for you.

At least three rescuers killed, six hurt in an underground seismic bump.

We'll take a break and we'll continue with our live coverage right after this.


HARRIS: Another tragedy last evening at the Crandall Canyon Mine. Can you believe it?

Three rescue workers killed as a result of another seismic event, a bump underground there in the mine.

Kara Finnstrom is with us -- Kara, I actually wanted to get to you a little earlier, out of Dan Simon, just to sort of have you tell the story from the hospital.

We were able to get Pat Reavy on with some additional information.

But good to see you again this morning.

If you would, for folks who are just joining us, will you sort of reset last evening -- the events of last evening and the scene at the hospital now?


This hospital here is called The Castleview Hospital. It's just about 45 minutes away from the mine, but it's the closest hospital.

So when word first got out that there had been another accident in this mine, the ambulances that were sent there came directly back here. And our crews could see these ambulance workers actually working on the miners and the rescue workers inside of the ambulances as they rushed them here.

At least four ambulances that we know of brought those rescue workers to this hospital. A total of nine people involved in that accident. We now know three of them have died. A total of six of those were brought to this hospital.

One of those rescue workers died shortly after being brought here. Another one were treated -- and this is some good news -- we're told was treated and released. So that's some good news.

But three, at last report, remained in this hospital tonight, two of them in serious condition and one in very serious condition.

And we did just call to try and get an update, but we're told that there may be no further updates until later on in the morning.

Throughout the evening here, there were families of some of these miners that were now involved in the rescue work coming out here, trying to figure out if it was their loved one that was injured during this latest accident, because it's the middle of the night here and there is not much information and people are trying to call each other and figure out who exactly is hurt, the extent of the injuries.

At one point, the mining company asked all of these rescue workers to please come down the mountain and let their loved ones know that they are OK. And that's what they did at that point.

But it's been a very tense night here, obviously, for these families.

Tony, just about a block away from here, a small vigil has popped up, families out holding candles and praying. Now not only for the six who were originally trapped, that they're still hoping to rescue, but now for these additional nine. Three of them, we now learn, have died.

HARRIS: Yes. We got word of that vigil that had just sort of spontaneously popped up from Pat Reavy from the "Deseret News."

And the hospital where you are, boy, it must have been a difficult situation in that hospital. That's not a level one trauma center n yet that was a hospital that was getting some -- some serious injuries. And additional staff, I understand, called in.

FINNSTROM: Yes. They said they called in everyone. They do have some special training to deal with mining injuries...

HARRIS: Hmmm, that's right.

FINNSTROM: ...because this is where they are.

HARRIS: Sure. Yes.

FINNSTROM: This is a huge industry here. But they say still, you know, they're not level one trauma center. They can deal with some of the cuts and bruises, with some minor head injuries, they said, with broken bones. So that kind of gives you an idea of what they're dealing with here tonight.

But they did airlift one of the people that was originally brought here out to Provo, where they have a trauma one center.


Kara Finnstrom for us.

Kara, appreciate it.

Thank you.

Let's get you back to Dan Simon now -- and, Dan, we just talked to Pat Reavy of the "Deseret News" a short time ago. And it is an issue that we've been talking about all evening. And, boy, there is -- you know, there is real doubt now as to whether or not there will be a resumption of the rescue effort for the six trapped miners. It is an issue we've talked about. And we understand that there's probably some huddling going on right now as officials there try to come to some kind of determination.

You've said it throughout the evening, it is clear now that we're talking about a mine that is not safe.

DAN SIMON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It's a very difficult question that these officials are going to have to grapple with. Clearly, Tony, this mine is not safe. So you're going to have some people who will come forward, no question about it, tomorrow who will make a persuasive argument that it would be irresponsible to send rescuers into this mine knowing that such a catastrophe could occur yet again.

This mine has proven itself to be a dangerous place. You have the incident, now 11 days ago, where you had six people who were doing their daily work, who were mining coal from this mine and got trapped. And ever since then, you've had an around-the-clock, 24-7 effort to get those miners out. Throughout that period, there have been periodic seismic bumps. Mr. Murray has said that he would not compromise the safety of the rescuers. I believe that he truly meant that because throughout this process they have halted the operation anytime they had a significant bump.

Clearly, nobody could have anticipated that such an event like this would occur this evening. They were doing everything they could to prevent it. They were trying to shore-up the walls and the ceiling by using steel beams and wooden beams and they were really taking their time. As you know, Tony, they really hadn't progressed very far in the 10 or 11 days they've undergone this mission. But tonight, obviously a catastrophe. And the rescuers are all out. And as of right now, this operation has come to a halt, Tony.

HARRIS: I'm not quite sure how to ask this question. Bear with me here. Dan, we know that there's been the drilling going on now. And the initial drilling was in the area where officials felt the miners were, where they last were, where they believed they would find them. The horizontal work that was being done by the rescue teams was essentially to drill into that very area where we now have -- where the bore holes were drilled, and we have heard nothing from those locations. I guess what I'm asking is, is that where the horizontal digging was going to lead them?

SIMON: To be perfectly honest, Tony, I don't know. And I'm not sure they know. The idea was to poke holes through the side of this mountain and basically look through by sending a camera so they can get a microphone -- and seeing if there were any evidence of the miners to be in that particular location. Over the past 11 days, they had dug three holes. They were in the process of digging a fourth hole.

In the meantime, concurrent to what was going on there, there was this horizontal dig. It was kind of like carving out a new cave because this 2,000-foot passageway had essentially been blocked by all of this rock. So they brought in their machinery to just clear out this area, 2,000 feet, to where they thought the miners were. And it was such an arduous process to do that because of these bumps. And tonight, a little bit after 6:30 local time, a significant bump, so much so that part of the rock apparently caved in, trapped at least nine people, three of whom we now know lost their lives in the process -- Tony. It's sad.

HARRIS: Yeah, it's just such an interesting process to watch the approach of this rescue effort, drilling the bore holes down, while at the same time you've got the horizontal dig going on as well, trying to find that cavity where ultimately they find these trapped miners.

Dan, appreciate it. Thank you. Stand by, if you would, please.

SIMON: Sure.

HARRIS: Earlier tonight, our Anderson Cooper spoke to the director of United Miner Workers. Here's part of his discussion with Dennis O'Dell.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dennis O'Dell is still on the line with us. He's from the United Miner Workers of America, the safety and health director.

Dennis, we're looking at these pictures from inside the mine where you see these support shafts, which I think you were talking about earlier. That's literally just holding up the ceiling, correct?

DENNIS O'DELL, SAFETY AND HEALTH DIRECTOR, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA: Yes, that's correct. The picture you just showed, that's the camera going down into the shaft. But the picture prior to that, you could see the wire screen mesh put against the ribs was on additional bolts and wire rope with those posts in front of it to try hold those ribs back.

COOPER: And the men here who are -- what are they doing there by pulling down on that? That's moving....

O'DELL: That's a hydraulic jack and what they're doing is they're applying the pressure. It's just like a car jack. When you jack it, it's moving that inner jack up against the roof and tightening it against the top and the bottom.

COOPER: And how many men can work in the underground portion of this -- in terms of trying to get access to the miners, how many men can work in a space like this at one time?

O'DELL: Well, it's hard to say at this point, but if it's unobstructed, like what we're looking at now, you can work -- usually a crew of men will work in that area, which could be anywhere from eight to 10 men without getting in each other's way too much.

COOPER: This third hole that was drilled yesterday -- there was this press conference last night, it sounded very encouraging although Mr. Murray said don't read too much into it. Yet, at the same time he said this is a sign of hope. They heard sounds in a pattern within a second and a half in between. That could have been something from miners, but it very well could have been just some natural sound, grinding rocks and the like, correct?

O'DELL: Yes, it could have been anything. What they're using are geophones. And they are a highly sensitive ground-motion transistor. Typically, they are used only for high-frequencies, but we use them in cases like this. And it could have been anything, it could have been movement of the earth, it could have been -- there's just numerous that that occur -- the wind blowing -- that this would pick up. So at this time, it's too premature to say what it was exactly.

COOPER: And how does that work. One of these holes is drilled and then the geophone -- what does the geophone actually look like?

O'DELL: Well, it looks like a microphone -- I guess is the simplest that way you could put that. And it will register on this device that they have. And you can't distinct exactly what that is. You just know that you're picking up some sound activity. These things have been used by seismologists and geophysicists for decades. It's not like it's new technology or anything. It's something that has been around for a long time. And you listen for different sounds. And if you can distinctly pick up some sounds, it'll kind of lead you in the direction that you need to go. And I think that was the intention when they started drilling the other hole. They thought that noise was coming in by where that third hole was, hoping that they could get closer to where that activity was picked up.

COOPER: I'm getting a lot of e-mails from people asking a lot of questions about this. And some of them are very good, simple, but very good questions. Why can't all these holes be drilled at one time? Why is it one day, it's one hole, and then another hole and another, and today a fourth?

O'DELL: I think that everything has to be approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, everything that's laid out, all activity that takes place. In other words, anytime you're into a rescue and recovery operation like this the operator will submit a plan on what they intend to do. And when they submit this plan, that plan goes to the Mine Safety and Health Administration for review because the mine is under what we call a K Order, a closure order, so any activity that takes place, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal government has to give them the OK.

Typically, it may be that they only have two drills in the area that they can move about to do the drilling. They need to do one, depending on how close the location is. They may do the second hole when the first one fails. And it's just a methodical way that they go through things, hoping that hole number two will reveal something that number one didn't, three, four, and so on and so forth. And all of these have to be approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration when they do it. It may be a lack of not having the drills on the site that they need.

COOPER: Also, the angle of the side of the mountain has to be dealt with. And I understood that some of the locations, they're literally having to create roads to get to these locations?

O'DELL: That's true, they have. It's my understanding that part of the drill that they brought up had to even be brought in by helicopter to be put in place as well. So this is an area that is not easy to access to begin with.


HARRIS: We've been told repeatedly that the work was difficult, at times very slow going and that the rescue teams are facing very, very challenging conditions underground. Boy, does that come home tonight. Three rescue workers killed, six others injured during another of these underground seismic bumps while the rescue teams were trying to reach the six trapped miners who have been trapped for 11 days now.

This from just a bit of a the statement from Jon Huntsman, the governor of Utah, earlier this evening: "Whatever happens from now on, all I ask, on behalf of all Utahans, is that we have no more injuries. We have been through enough. We will take a break."

I'll show you some pictures from the Associated Press of family members at the entrance of the Crandall Canyon Mine.

Our coverage continues after a break.


HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone. If you're just joining us, horrible news at the Crandall Canyon Mine last night, three rescue workers killed as a result of another one of these underground bumps, these underground seismic events. There have been so many of them over the last 11 days. This one occurred while the rescue workers were digging that horizontal tunnel to try to get to the trapped miners.

Again, another one of these underground seismic events, a bump that lead to some kind of either cave-in or collapse. The end result, three rescue workers killed, another six injured.

We are expecting a news conference, 11 a.m. local time, that's 1 p.m. eastern time, where we will probably get an answer to the critical question now, where do we go from here.

In the meantime, in the days before the mine collapse, there were many concerns about its safety. CNN's Ted Rowlands investigated the allegations and filed this report last Friday.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trapped miner Manuel Sanchez said he was concerned about safety inside one section of the Crandall Canyon Mine in the weeks leading up to the collapse. That's what a family member has told a local newspaper. And now, a source with intimate knowledge of the conditions of the mine tells CNN Sanchez wasn't alone, that other miners were also apprehensive of working in the area of the collapse.

The source, who won't go on camera, says the six trapped miners were working in an area called7 Belt, the deepest part of the mine. And he tells CNN that, for weeks before the collapse, the floors in that part of the mine were heaving or buckling up from intense pressure. He said supervisors knew of the problem. And the source says several miners, including Manuel Sanchez, were getting very concerned.

(on camera): Do you know why this miner would have been nervous going into that particular section?

ROBERT MURRAY, CRANDALL CANYON MINE OWNER: No, I have no idea. I've never heard that. I have no idea. It's probably a rumor, and I'm not going to respond to rumors. I can tell you that if any of my management or any worker here had ever said that to me, I would say, yes, I was told that. No, don't know about that, sir. And that's the truth.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): If the miners were so afraid, why didn't they complain? Several miners we've talked to in this area say complaining means you lose your job.

MURRAY: If you're getting that from the community, it's coming from other mines because I don't operate that way.

PAUL RIDDLE, FORMER MINER: Always profits before safety. That's my opinion, my feeling and my experience.

ROWLANDS: Paul Riddle used to work in one of Bob Murray's mines. Riddle says miners who work for Murray are sometimes forced to push the envelope when it comes to safety and are afraid to speak up for fear of losing their high-paying jobs.

RIDDLE: I'm not the only one. There are many, many, many people that feel this way and are afraid to speak up.

ROWLANDS: The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration plans to conduct an investigation into exactly what happened and the conditions at the mine leading up to the collapse.

The mine's owner is confident his company will not be blamed.

MURRAY: There'll be nothing in the investigation that will show that Murray Energy or Utah American or the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration did a thing wrong. It was a natural disaster.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Huntington, Utah.


HARRIS: You know what I want to do? We received some pictures a short time ago from the Associated Press. And I've got some additional information. And let's hold that picture for just a second. I don't know if we've got a sequence here, but let's hold that.

You're looking at Norma Flores. She is embracing Maria Lerma (ph) and Ellahondra (ph) Valdez. And let's focus on Maria Lerma (ph), who is being hugged here. She heard about last night's accident from friends and she rushed to the Crandall Canyon Mine because she was trying to find out some information about her husband, Natalio (ph), who was a part of the rescue effort inside the mine. This is her daughter, Atalina (ph). You're going to see another picture in just a moment that is particularly devastating. There she is just crying her eyes out, just trying to deal with the news she's getting. She's getting information about the event and about the injuries sustained and worried about her dad, presumably. And what we can tell you is that Natalio Lerma (ph) was not among the nine rescue workers injured. But you can imagine, just from those pictures, just how difficult emotionally this has been for anyone with family and friends connected to the events of last night and certainly the last 11 days.

Let's get you to Kara Finnstrom right now in Price, Utah.

So, Kara, I can imagine you go from a scene like that, the next thing you want to do, if you're another family member or friend, is rush right to where you are and find out the condition of your loved one?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right. Just a horrific night for these family members. And it was really quite a scene here tonight. A lot of people coming by, we were told, to try and find just that out. They were getting word -- it's over night here, so people were asleep and they got phone calls at home. They understood that there had been another accident at the mine and that the rescuers themselves -- the family members, friends of these six trapped miners now needed to be rescued. Nine of them -- three of them we now understand have died. But six of them were brought here to this hospital. So many people coming to this hospital, trying to get word about their names, about their conditions. And so actually, the mine actually asked all those rescue workers still up there to please come down the mountain and to start contacting their loved ones to let them know they are OK. So that was a lot of what was going on tonight.

Now, we have checked in with the hospital. They say we probably will not be getting any updates on the conditions of the miners here until later on in the morning. But we have learned that one of the rescue workers, either a miner of an MSHA worker -- we know both of those were hurt during this latest accident -- that's the Mine Safety Administration, those workers that were also taking part in the rescue effort. One of them has been treated and released here. So that's some very good news.

There are three others still be treated here. And we know that one of them is in very serious condition. And, Tony, two of the others are in serious condition. So hopefully, we may learn some more news about how they're doing some time later on this morning.

HARRIS: OK, Kara, appreciate that and appreciate your efforts for us tonight in following this story there in Price, Utah.

Before we take a break, again, as you look at these pictures, word a short time ago and a written statement from the governor of Utah. Just a bit of it for you: "There is nothing more selfless than giving one's life while rescuing another. We have witnessed a remarkable act of selflessness. Whatever happens from now on, all I ask, on behalf of all Utahans, is that we have no more injuries. We have been through enough."

And, Roger, if you could, let's see those pictures again of Maria Lerma (ph) of Huntington, rushing to the mouth of the Crandall Canyon Mine. She is the woman being embraced right now. She received some good news, that her husband not injured tonight, and OK. But you can see, in the moments before she received that news and perhaps in the moments right after, just a range of emotions. There's her young daughter on edge, as you can see. It is one of the things that we can do particularly well here is we can put you on the ground with video and still pictures and give you a sense of how painful this is, what an ordeal this is for the families.

We'll take a break and we'll come right back with more of our continuing coverage right here in the CNN "NEWSROOM."


HARRIS: Obviously, the scene played out hours and hours ago, but it's a video that we received here at CNN just an hour or so ago, so still relatively new video for us of this life-flight helicopter landing in Provo, Utah, at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, carrying one of the more seriously injured rescue workers from last night's underground seismic event that left three of the rescue workers dead. And just a difficult, difficult set of circumstances for that community, Huntington, and certainly Price.

A lot of the injured taken to Castleview Hospital. That's where Kara Finnstrom is this evening. The families of the six trapped miners and now those grieving after last night's seismic bump are waiting for any word from the mine.

Listen as Patsy Christie tells our Anderson Cooper how she's hanging on.


COOPER: On the phone I'm joined by Patsy Christie, whose son was in the mine tonight.

Patsy, thanks for calling. How are you doing, first of all?

CHRISTIE: I'm doing fine. I know that my son is OK. He's probably, like all the rest of them, in shock. He's still at the mine, but he did call his wife and he was not injured.

COOPER: When you heard the news -- obviously, it's something every mining family fears. And how quickly did you get the information that your son was OK and did you get the information of what was going on?

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

COOPER: And your thoughts as you hear that there has been one fatality, that there are eight others injured? Obviously, your thoughts go out to those other families.

CHRISTIE: Yes, yes. It's a terrible thing. And we're a close- knit community and both counties -- we're both coal-mining counties. Everybody's close and everybody knows somebody that's in there. So we're just all trying to hold everybody else up and, you know, it's just a horrible thing that's happened. COOPER: Your son, is he part of the rescue effort?

CHRISTIE: Yes. He's...

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

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

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

CHRISTIE: Just that they have went over and above what was expected of them. My son doesn't work in that mine. He works in another mine. So he has been in here for 11 nights. And he wouldn't have been anywhere else.

COOPER: Is that right?

CHRISTIE: Those people that were there -- and it's the only place he could have ever thought of being.

COOPER: Even knowing the dangers?

CHRISTIE: And that goes for all of these people.

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

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

COOPER: Patsy, did you hear from your son or from your daughter- in-law what your son said about what happened or about what was going on?

CHRISTIE: No, he was unable to talk very much when he called her.

COOPER: Sure. Understandable. CHRISTIE: It's a traumatic event. And I don't think any of these people are really talking a lot.

COOPER: Understandable. I can certainly understand. There's a lot going on. It's not the time for them to be talking about it.

Patsy, I appreciate you calling in and being with us and telling us a little bit about your son and about all these other miners, the men and women who are down there and doing this everyday. Thank you, Patsy.

CHRISTIE: You're welcome. Thank you.