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Bodies of miners found

Lawmakers promise to work to prevent another tragedy
A mourner leaves the Bright Star Freewill Baptist Church in Melville, West Virginia, Saturday.



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West Virginia

MELVILLE, West Virginia -- The bodies of two miners who were trapped after an underground fire broke out at Aracoma Alma Mine No. 1 were found Saturday, mine officials said.

Jesse Cole of the Mine Safety and Health Administration said that the bodies were found in an area where "there would've been heavy smoke and high (carbon monoxide)."

"They were both located close together when we found them," Cole added.

The families of the miners identified them as Don Israel Bragg, 33, and Ellery "Elvis" Hatfield, 47.

Bragg, from Accoville, is survived by his wife, Delorice, and his two children. Hatfield, of Simon, leaves his wife, Freda, and four children.

Bragg began mining at the age of 18, but started at the Aracoma Mine five years ago with Hatfield, who has 12 years of mining experience.

After the announcement that the two miners were dead, Gov. Joe Manchin said he was planning to introduce mine-safety bills in the state Legislature and to lobby the U.S. Congress to enact more mine-safety laws. (Watch the governor's promise to make mines less dangerous -- 7:27)

Among the issues he said he intends to address are ensuring that there are ample oxygen stations within mines and making sure rescuers have the means to respond as rapidly as possible.

"Time, hours, days go by -- that's unacceptable," Manchin said.

Manchin promised earlier Saturday that he would announce "bold steps and bold actions" to prevent another mining tragedy in his state.

"We're going to do everything we can never to put another family in this situation," he said.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, said that today's technology should provide rescuers with better tools to save miners.

"You can talk to a man on the face of the moon and you can't talk to a miner 1,000 feet underground," Rockefeller said.

He said he was "very angry" about the state of mine safety in West Virginia and encouraged others to get angry because only a "sustained rage" will effect change. (Watch Rockefeller talk about his plans to press Congress for mine-safety legislation -- 9:14)

There were hopes the missing miners had sought safety in a fresh-air pocket.

The deaths in Melville followed a tragedy in Tallmansville, West Virginia, in which 12 miners died of carbon monoxide poisoning following an explosion at Sago Mine, about 180 miles away. The lone survivor, Randy McCloy, is hospitalized in serious condition.

A widow of one of Sago Mine victims is at the Aracoma site, offering comfort to the families, the governor said.

Rescuers on Saturday contained the underground fire that trapped the miners and were moving down a mile-long shaft. Cole said the heat and smoke from the fire prevented rescuers from going too deep into the mine.

Complicating rescue efforts was the collapse of the mine's roof because of the fire and the blockage of several entryways.

Officials said the fire probably started on a conveyor belt that moves coal out of the mine.

The missing men were apparently separated from their 10 other crew members when the fire broke out. Their colleagues, as well as a second crew, managed to exit the mine about two hours later.

CNNRadio's Ninette Sosa and Barbara Hall and CNN's Ronni Berke contributed to this report.

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