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Trapped US miners found alive

Twelve miners, caught in an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine, were found alive more than 41 hours after the blast that ultimately claimed the life of another miner.

Last Modified: 04 Jan 2006 06:31 GMT
A rescue team prepares to enter the Sago mine on Tuesday

Twelve miners, caught in an explosion in a West Virginia coal mine, were found alive more than 41 hours after the blast that ultimately claimed the life of another miner.

Bells at a church where relatives had been gathering rang out as family members ran out screaming in jubilation.

Relatives yelled "They're alive!"

"They told us they have 12 alive," said Joe Manchin, West Virginia’s governor. "We have some people that are going to need some medical attention."

"Miracles happen in West Virginia and today we got one," said Charlotte Weaver, wife of Jack Weaver, one of the men who had been trapped in the mine.

"I got scared a lot of times, but I couldn't give up," she said. "We have an 11-year-old son, and I couldn't go home and tell him, 'Daddy wasn't coming home."

One miner was found dead earlier Tuesday, said the mine's owner, International Coal Group Inc. He was not immediately identified.

Unconfirmed

Neither the company nor the governor's office immediately confirmed that the men were alive.

Governor Joe Manchin (R) speaks
to the fiancee of a trapped miner

There were hugs and tears among the crowd outside the Sago Baptist Church near the mine, 161km (100 miles) northeast of Charleston.

A relative at the church said a mine foreman called relatives there, saying the miners had been found.

The miners had been trapped 78m (260 feet) below the surface of the mine after an explosion early Monday.

Helen Winans, whose son Marshall Winans, was one of those trapped, said she believed there was divine intervention.

"The Lord takes care of them," she said.

Breanna Williams, whose sisters' father Jesse Jones was among the trapped, said she heard the miners had been found from other families who ran from the church proclaiming, "Praise the Lord, they are alive."

Empty mine car

The dead miner was found about 210m (700 feet) from a mine car, and it appeared the employee was working on a beltline, which brings coal out of the Sago Mine, said Hatfield.

The mine car was empty, which led rescuers to believe the others may have been safe somewhere else in the mine.

Company officials continued to stress throughout the ordeal that the miners were trained to barricade themselves in a safe area.

"The experience is what helped get him get out, no doubt in my mind," said John Groves, whose brother Jerry Groves, a 30-year miner, was among those trapped.

Source:
Agencies
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