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Rescued miners give thanks

Bush to meet with miners, salute 'spirit of America'

Ten helmets on the altar represented the nine miners and God.
Ten helmets on the altar represented the nine miners and God.  

SOMERSET, Pennsylvania, (CNN) -- The town that held its breath for 77 hours as the nation watched a week ago lifted its voice in thankfulness Sunday.

Families and friends of eight of the nine miners lifted to safety in the early hours of last Sunday joined some of those involved in the rescue at the flooded Quecreek mine for a special service at Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church, about 100 yards from the rescue center.

Ten miners helmets represented the nine miners and God. The lamps on each one was turned on as "Morning Has Broken" was sung by a soloist.

Candles also were lit to represent each of the nine other miners who escaped as the mine flooded after getting the alert from those who became trapped that they had broken through into abandoned mine area and had "hit water."

The congregation heard readings from Psalms, Romans and St. John's gospel by local ministers from several denominations.

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At one point, Rev. Dennis Doebler of the Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church turned to the miners and said, "It is you that give us faith," and the congregation broke into applause.

Hundreds of rescue workers toiled for three days to lower the water and drill rescue shafts to the nine men cut off in a flooded seen.

Families and friends waited at a nearby firehall for three days with no idea of whether the men were alive or dead.

The only communication with the surface after the men became trapped was some knocking on an air pipe which rescuers heard Thursday.

But during the drilling of the 238 feet rescue shaft there was too much vibration for the rescuers to communicate with the men.

It was only after the rescue shaft broke through to the men that rescuers on the surface could drop a radio phone to the men and discovered that all nine were alive and in good shape

They were taken to hospital but released over the next few days.

Over the weekend, the Walt Disney Co. bought the rights to the miners story.

Eight of the miners stood behind the altar for pictures after the service.
Eight of the miners stood behind the altar for pictures after the service.  

"They have sold all of their rights," attorney Barbara L. Weiss, who represents the miners, told CNN in a telephone interview Saturday.

The Associated Press reported that each man would receive $150,000.

It was also announced Sunday that President Bush would meet with the men and their families Monday in a visit to Pittsburgh designed to salute the "spirit of America," a senior administration official said.

Bush will hold a private, closed meeting with the miners and make public remarks with them, their families and the first responders to the accident.

Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker, who was a constant presence during the ordeal giving reporters updates, will introduce the president.




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