CLEARWATER - West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin flew back to West Virginia upon hearing news of 13 trapped coal miners at Tallmansville. There was a more pressing problem at Sago Coal Mine than watching West Virginia play Georgia in a college bowl game.
Thirteen coal miners were trapped underground due to an explosion.
Tuesday morning, Gene Kitts of Sago Coal Mine reported drilling an air vent into the area where they believed the miners were working. "We tried sending a message to them by hitting the pipe, there was no return message … but, we still have hope."
Hope, however, dwindled over time.
About 200 family members and friends of the miners met at the nearby Baptist Church to pray and wait for latest reports. National media reporters flocked to Tallmansville to offer up-to-the-minute reports about the miners. As time moved forward, many family members lost hope. One wife said, "This is it. No matter if he survives - he will not go back into the mine." Another son of a trapped miner said he did not think there was much of a chance for survival.
"We found them!"
A message was relayed by cell phone that the rescuers found the 13 miners.
News reports, although unconfirmed, traveled to the press rooms of most major newspapers.
The headline for Wednesday?
However, the message was wrong. Twelve miners were found dead, one miner is alive and in intensive care.
The reaction to the confirmed news in Tallmansville was, as could be expected, not pleasant. Songs of jubilation turned to words of anger and sadness. "Image the worst day of your life, that's where I am," said mine CEO on Wednesday morning.
As of Wednesday morning, the lone surviving 27-year-old miner was alive and in intensive care.
Until then, America mourns the deaths of the miners and offers prayers to surviving family members.
Sago Mine owners, on the other hand, will be forced to respond to over 144 notices of mine violations in 2005.
"No, the mine will remain open," said one company spokesman.
Instead of joy in Tallmansville, due to an inaccurate report, there is sadness and pain.
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