12 coal miners are found dead, 1 in critical condition, in West Virginia mine

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Wednesday, January 4, 2006

US state of West Virginia
US state of West Virginia

According to many news sources including CNN and USA Today, reports indicate that 12 coal miners have been found dead in the mine in Sago, West Virginia and only one has survived, reversing reports three hours earlier that 12 had been found alive -- a report that had caused celebration amongst family members and friends.

The family members of the dead miners were notified of the deaths by Ben Hatfield, CEO of the International Coal Groi[, at the Sago Baptist Church. Hatfield blamed the reversal on "bad information" and "miscommunication."

"What happened is that through stray cell phone conversations it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue team underground to the command center was picked up by various people that simply overheard the conversation that was relayed over cell phone communications without our ever having made a [public news] release," explained Hatfield.

Family members walked out of the church saying that the CEO of the mining company had "lied to them". The surviving miner, Randal McCloy, is currently in critical condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The United States Mine Safety and Health Administration issued the mine 208 citations last year, an increase from 68 reported in 2004. Federal regulations cover concerns over accumulations of combustible materials, including methane gas and coal dust from loose coal, in addition to other safety issues. The agency has announced that it plans launch a in-depth investigation into the incident at Sago. The investigation will examine the mine's compliance with health and safety standards and how emergency information was communicated.


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