Friday, August 17, 2007
Tragedy piled on tragedy
Paramedics perform chest compressions on an injured miner inside the ambulance.
HUNTINGTON, Utah -- I was flying when word came about the second accident in the Crandall Canyon Mine. I had covered the initial week of the disaster, but was now off to Peru to cover the terrible earthquake there. I was flying from Atlanta to Miami, and then connecting to Lima.

When I landed in Miami and found out what happened, I was both stunned and not so stunned at the same time. Stunned, because of the magnitude of additional anguish and loss. Not so stunned, because I know how dangerous it can be in the mine. I spent two hours in the mine last week, and we experienced a frightening mountain bump. We heard a boom and the mine shook. For an instant, I thought the mine might start collapsing. And indeed, that's what happened Thursday night.

When I got off the plane in Miami, I saw Anderson on the TV in the airport terminal anchoring our special coverage. I called our control room so I could talk with Anderson and our viewers from a payphone at Miami International Airport.

My plane was supposed to leave for Lima at 11:55 p.m., but our coverage of this new mining disaster was going to continue until 2 a.m. We decided I would stay on the phone and the American Airlines flight would continue to Lima without me. My producer and two videographers were already on their way to Peru from other cities and would work with our other staff on the ground there.

After our initial coverage overnight, my bosses asked me to head back to Utah, so that's what I did. I took the first flight out of Miami, and now I'm back at this incredibly sad story at Crandall Canyon Mine.

I got a chance to meet many miners and their family members while I was last here. Just minutes ago, I received a call from the niece of one of the seriously injured men. She was crying and couldn't believe this had happened, especially since another man, her cousin, had been in the mine and escaped injury during the initial collapse.

My luggage is somewhere in Lima right now, but it is irrelevant to me as we contend with the terrible sadness in Peru and at Crandall Canyon.

-- By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 4:42 PM ET
  43 Comments
For the love of God, that shady owner had better not let anyone back into that mine until they seriously start ensuring everyone's safety. As neat as it was to see (and horrifying for you, I am sure, Gary) the inside of the mine as it was being worked on, I really begin to wonder how smart it was to allow journalists underground considering the dire state that mine is in. What if it was journalists, too? And the owners still continue to say it was an earthquake that originally did this, regardless of what seismologists have said. I call a cover up... and complete mismanagement.

Thank you for your dedication to the families there, and for continuing with this story. And PLEASE, do not go underground!!
Posted By MarcieGee : 5:05 PM ET
Gary, stay safe, give our condolences to any and all concerned, and thank for you very informative, caring reports from the field. I am still stunned at yesterday's events. How sad, truly sad. Seems like Sago Mine all over again. I stay riveted to that story also, with Anderson there.
Bless them all.
Posted By Sue Saginaw MI : 5:20 PM ET
What I appreciate most about the coverage of this horrible and sad affair is the respect and dignity the victims families have been shown.

Where there is too often pressure and insensitivity, I have seen kindness and respect.

Thank you for keeping us updated, while offering space to those family members who need it most.
Posted By Tina D, Provo Utah : 5:25 PM ET
What I appreciate most about the coverage of this horrible and sad affair is the respect and dignity the victims families have been shown.

Where there is too often pressure and insensitivity, I have seen kindness and respect.

Thank you for keeping us updated, while offering space to those family members who need it most.
Posted By Tina D, Provo Utah : 5:26 PM ET
Gary,

You have had a rough couple of weeks and I am sure it is taking its toll on you, even though you know it is your job, you are human being and have deep feelings as well. You could tell this with your phone interview last night on AC360.

You did such a great job covering it last week and then you were on to another tragidy in Peru.

It is a horrible thing that happened with the rescures needing to be rescued and even the deaths that happened, but I hope you are all right with going back to cover this story. I for one will look forward to your continuing coverage.
Posted By Jana Terre Haute, IN : 5:30 PM ET
You all must be incredibly tired. Watching the coverage last night, it was just so heart-breaking how the news just kept getting worse. This seems to be an incredibly bad couple of weeks for tragedies in many areas of the world. The blog of the producer in Peru is also incredibly sad, travelling surrounded by coffins for infants! The reports from the mine in Utah seemed to indicate they were exercising a good deal of caution in rescue efforts. I've been reading different things about use of retreat mining at the Utah site. Could you clarify if they were still using this method or if that stopped about a year ago. Also, how do they make judgments about safety in re-entering the mine. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families there, and also to the officials who have heart-wrenching and weighty decisions to make.
Posted By Vicky, Ottawa, ON : 5:33 PM ET
I watch the mining story all week long and it seem everything the rescuers were trying to do in order to get the 6 miners out just wasn't working.
And all of sudden things was looking up. They had heard a noise from under the ground. They were hopeful!
They thought they may be getting close to finding them. Then last night another awful collapsed happen, the rescuers were trapped themselves! 3 of them were killed and 6 were injured.
This has turned into such a horrific thing from what I heard today they are going to supended the rescue operation for the 6 that are still trapped in the mine,

I can't imagine what the miners and their love ones are going though. My prayers are with everyone touched by this tragic event.
I wan't to take this chance to thank the rescuers and news crew from CNN.

Thank you Gary Tuchman for bring us the story all week. I know it wasn't easy and I'm sorry I am sure you knew a lot of these men.

Thank you Anderson for being with us all night till 2am and bringing us the updates. Step by Step of what was going on, In such a touching and caring way. You did a very good job! no one could have done it better.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 5:43 PM ET
Gary

Thanks to both you and Anderson as well as the whole team of 360 for the 4 plus hours of great breaking news coverage.

As I was listening to you speak last night I was thinking to myself I bet Gary wishes he was in Utah right now so I am so glad to hear the we will be seeing you live there tonight.

I have to say how refreshing it was to hear a journalist show some sort of emotion. When you were speaking about Jameson Ward it sounded as if your voice was cracking up....maybe it was the payphone but I think it was concern first and then relief to hear that he was alright. Jameson has had two close calls in this tragedy. Someone must be looking out for him

And thank you to everyone at CNN for being so compassionate and senesitive to the families of the fallen recovery workers by not releasing information for the sake of releasing information. CNN can always be trusted to bring us the story and to bring it to us right.

Please convey our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and residents of this close knit community. They are in our prayers as we remember the miners still trapped and the heroes who risked all to try and rescue them.
Posted By Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada : 5:45 PM ET
I watch the mining story all week long and it seem everything the rescuers were trying to do in order to get the 6 miners out just wasn't working.
And all of sudden things was looking up. They had heard a noise from under the ground. They were hopeful!
They thought they may be getting close to finding them. Then last night another awful collapsed happen, the rescuers were trapped themselves! 3 of them were killed and 6 were injured.
This has turned into such a horrific thing from what I heard today they are going to supended the rescue operation for the 6 that are still trapped in the mine,

I can't imagine what the miners and their love ones are going though. My prayers are with everyone touched by this tragic event.
I wan't to take this chance to thank the rescuers and news crew from CNN.

Thank you Gary Tuchman for bring us the story all week. I know it wasn't easy and I'm sorry I am sure you knew a lot of these men.

Thank you Anderson for being with us all night till 2am and bringing us the updates. Step by Step of what was going on, In such a touching and caring way. You did a very good job! no one could have done it better.

Jennifer - From Anderson, South Carolina.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 5:46 PM ET
We can put a robot on Mars and we cannot put one down a mine shaft?Cameras and robots come in small packages.

Loren H. Jock, Jr.
Stuart, FL
Posted By Anonymous : 5:47 PM ET
I have not heard any information about the ventilation curtain viewed on camera from 3rd hole drilling. Was it already setup prior to the mine collapse? I would also like to know if a loud sounding device could be lowered into the mine to alert the miners--if alive--where the hole has been drilled. Also, why can't a larger hole be drilled to lower someone into the mine to look for the miners?
Posted By Pam French New Bern North Carolina : 5:53 PM ET
Duhhh!! Silly human beings keep putting themselves in harm's way and taking risks, then all the disgusting "hysteria" when some get hurt or die. We are truly a sicko society/culture!
Posted By Sydney, Mobile, Alabama : 5:55 PM ET
Hi Gary, I hardly slept last night. I thought about the families who lost their loved ones and prayed for them. Even if you didn't lose anyone in this tragedy, the sadness is just too much to overcome. What does this say about the future of the mining industry? Will they close this particular mine because of its poor safety record? Take care Gary and thanks for all your work on this.

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 5:56 PM ET
Harumpf. Look where the "No Fear" society gets us folks.
Posted By Lee, Peoria, IL : 5:56 PM ET
Dear Gary,

Thank you for your very thoughtful blog post this afternoon regarding the Crandall Canyon mine tragedy.

I watched the entire four hours of coverage on 360 last night. The story of this horrible accident and its victims is both compelling and tragic at the same time. Even as just a viewer it was very difficult to watch these terrible turn of events unfolding; I can’t begin to imagine what it is like for the friends and families of the miners involved. My thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Anderson showed such integrity last night by putting the feelings of the families ahead of getting the story at any cost.

I would be interested in hearing a report about the wireless tracking devices that are used in the mines in Illinois and if they would have been useful in the Crandall Canyon mine.

I hadn't realized you were on your way to Peru at the time of the second collapse. Your discussion with Anderson last night added so much to the coverage; I am glad you decided to phone in.

I don’t blame CNN for bringing you back to Utah. Your dedication to covering this tragedy and these victims is without question.

Although everyone has done an excellent job covering this sad story, you have been there from the very beginning. This report really belongs to you.

I think you are going to need a break both mentally and physically after this.

Take care,
Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 6:09 PM ET
I have been following the news coverage of the Utah mine collapse since the beginning and I have some questions. First, does anyone have any information as to whether the ventilation curtain viewed on video at the third hole was setup before or after the mine collapse? Also, why can't a loud sounding device be lowered into the third hole in attempt to alert the trapped miners of the hole location? And finally, since the 3rd hole revealed no damaged in this area of the mine, why can't the hole be drilled larger to lowerer someone into the mine to look for the miners?
Posted By Pam French New Bern North Carolina : 6:12 PM ET
My thoughts are with all recovering and all who did not survive the tragedies of the last three weeks. I'm still holding out and praying for the miracles in Utah and Peru. Take care of yourselves as you continue to report these events. You've been doing an awesome job.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 6:17 PM ET
I have been reading that Richard Stickler, head of MSHA, was appointed to his job during a senate recess because they refused to confirm him. His background is that of an executive in the mining industry. Is this another case of the fox minding the hen house? Is this why there have been no improvements in mining safety since the Sago Mine disaster? I truly hope this is not the case, but I have to wonder if the industry is not putting profits before safety. Retreat mining sounds like an effort to milk every last dime from a mine using what sounds like an extremely dangerous procedure. Why is this legal?

I think the CNN coverage of this horrible disaster has been outstanding. It has been sensitive to the people involved with a focus on seeking out the truth. I appreciate the hard work you all put into it. My heart breaks for the families of those effected by this tragedy. I only hope no one else has to die before our government wakes up and enacts the safety rules that ought to be in place.
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 6:29 PM ET
Gary, why were you calling from a payphone??
Posted By Schuyler Deerman, Tel Aviv : 6:30 PM ET
Hey Gary,

Not surprise to see you back there. You really sounded emotional last night and there's nothing wrong with it.
I followed the 4 hours last night. We have a long history of mining in our province also. I've learned at a young age to respect the miners.
They do their work often not in the most secure environment,it's often an hazard to their health.
This story is horrific and sad. What the families are going through is unbelievably hard. I won't give my opinion about whether or not they should send more in the mine,that's not my field. But I do hope they will make their decision based on cold hard facts so they won't put anymore of those men & women in danger.
As for Anderson,I respect the way you covered the story last night. With respect,sensitivity towards the families and integrity. Like always.Thank you for that.
My thoughts and prayers with all concern.

Joanne R.
Laval Quebec
Posted By Joanne R. Laval Quebec : 6:39 PM ET
Gary,

I'm glad that you're back in Utah. I feel like you're the reporter who can report the story with the perspective and sensitivity that it needs.

I wonder how many questers you spent on the pay phone last night?

Good Luck
Posted By Kim, Seaford NY : 6:46 PM ET
Let's see: go down mine, people die. go down mine, people die.

?? go down mine, people die?? 'ya think?!? Duhhh!! Here's the oxymoron of the year folks: "human intelligence" sheesh!
Posted By Sam, Houston, TX : 6:54 PM ET
Tina thinks people have been treated with respect?! I found it disgusting the way you showed footage looking inside an ambulance -- Anderson patting himself on the back for not being more graphic like the other stations. Here's a newsflash for you. There shouldn't be ANY footage of a patient, no matter where they are located. Being transported to the ambulance, in the ambulance, and on & on. It's really not all that complicated, but even CNN disgusts me, when it comes to scenarios such as these. I can't believe Gupta (as a PHYSICIAN) doesn't give his 2 cents & let you people know how INAPPROPRIATE you really are! You've done this before & you'll do it again. I don't know why I even bother complaining.
Posted By Kathy, Andover, KS : 7:08 PM ET
CNN, especially you and Anderson and the others on the ground at Utah, have done an amazing job of covering this horrible tragedy. I appreciate all your hard work and the risks you have taken to cover this story in a way that people can understand the scope of the risk and the tragedy.

It would seem there would be a technological way to try to reach the 6 original miners but perhaps there are problems with that we don't know about - an exploration and explanation of the pros and cons of anything technological available for this effort would be illuminating.

I feel so badly for the miners and families who sit and wait for word of their loved ones. The families of the 6 original miners must be at a new low now that this second collapse has occurred. I hope that whatever is decided to do next - go on with rescue, switch to recover, or shut down - that everyone can find a degree of peace with it.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 8:01 PM ET
Anderson did great coverage last night on the mine tragedy in Utah. It is so sad. Prayers be with all involved.
Posted By Wynona, San Diego : 8:21 PM ET
What an emotional roller coaster. These brave men were trying to save their friends and colleagues. This has to be difficult for anyone involved in mining. I caught the 11:00 CT hour last night and was stunned. Thanks to all of you for your dedication and support for all touched by this tragedy. I will continue to hope and pray for the safety of the miners still trapped.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 9:10 PM ET
Hi Gary,
There really are no words that will make this tragedy any less tragic. It makes your heart just sink down into your toes. Hope is an overused word, but it's a powerful emotion.
I believe when you lose hope in life you've stopped existing. One way or another the families, friends and the miners themselves will find an ounce of strength to carry on and that's really what I think hope is. My prayers go out to all.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:01 PM ET
As horrific as it is not knowing the fate of the 6 lost miners perhaps it is time to take count of the loss. We have half the number of lost miners in fatalities and the same number in injuries. As much as I grieve for the families of the lost miners there is a price for everything, and perhaps we have now reached that cost in lives lost. How bad would the lost miners feel if they knew that more lives were lost in an attempt to find them.
Posted By Jane Camsell, Sambro, NS : 10:40 PM ET
Gary,
This is indeed a very sad tragedy. My condolence to all who are impacted.
Thanks to you and your team on the ground that took the risk and actually went underground to show us the condition inside the mine. We now have a better understanding of how dangerous and difficult the rescue work is. Thanks for your hard work and professionalism. CNN is always the most trusted news network with all the good "breed" of reporters!
Posted By Yen Li, Penang. Malaysia : 10:42 PM ET
On Thursday night we followed the entire Anderson Cooper 360 show. While we do not mean to discount the newsworthiness of the Utah mine disaster, it was baffling to us that the terrible earthquake that occurred in Peru was hardly mentioned. I am aware that the American public may only have a passing interest in such devastation abroad (sadly), I find it unacceptable that a self-respecting news program does not report on a natural disaster causing in excess of 450 deaths, but spends almost 2 hours trying to peak into passing ambulances. It is disgraceful.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:03 AM ET
Being a daughter of a coal miner my heart goes out to all of the families. Many of my relatives were and still are coal miners and when something like this happens it does affect us all. My husband lost his grandfather in a mining accident as well as some of our friends. It is so heart breaking. I pray for the families of the men killed in the rescue attempt as well as for the surviors. Also that the men will be found alive very soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you all !! God Bless !!
Posted By Sue Hall Leesburg, VA : 12:47 AM ET
AC, Your coverage has been the best on TV on the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster. But your segment tonight left me very disturbed. Under the umbrella of "Keeping them honest" you brought in United Mine Worker spokesmen to pass judgement on the Crandall operation. These people are not mining engineers! They may have worked in mines but they are not mining engineers. What they ABSOLUTELY ARE is people who have a VESTED INTEREST in disparaging and condemning every non union mining operation in the country. If you listen to them, every non union operation is unsafe and only unionization can make them safe.

If you want to bring in recognized experts to comment on the mining plan etc., then by all means do so (AFTER the rescue phase is COMPLETED!) But please, do yourself and all of us a favor and leave those who have a vested interest in destroying the credibility of those involved out of the discussion (or AT LEAST point out the fact that self interest/promotion may be at play) As a point of reference, I worked for a non-union soda ash mine near Green River Wyo earlier in my life and I have seen first-hand the lengths that the unions will go to attack non-union shops. In fact that should be the subject of a whole "keeping them honest" segment.
Posted By Lee Guild Shadow Hills CA : 2:55 AM ET
My heart goes out to all the families involved in this terrible accident. I also want to say again what a wonderful job all the CNN reporters are doing on this story. I find it great that during this time you guys take the time to respect the families while reporting as well. You could be leaking every bit of information you come across, or show those close pictures of the men in the ambulances, but you don't.
As for the rescue efforts;
instead of risking anyone else's lives by drilling from the main entrance, why don't they drill a man size hole from above? Then they could send one man- or even a crew (after checking the conditions with the camera of course) to search for these 6 miners. At least then they wouldn't need to continue to drill hole after hole doing the trial and error search.
I guess I just don't understand when a job like this has existed for so long, why there is not a better plan in place.
Posted By Crystal-Burlington, IA : 11:21 AM ET
Gary,

Thursday, when you mentioned getting a cell phone call from Jamison's cousin desperate to know what had happened to him, I realized what a service CNN's continued coverage was providing. Thankfully, the immediate family members were getting direct reports. But there were friends, neighbors and extended relatives who were just as much in the dark about the unfolding tragedy as the rest of us viewers were.

CNN was bringing news to me and offering even more to others: giving people information that actually impacted their lives. Sometimes you actually DO have to turn on the tv or radio to find out what's happening in your backyard, in those situations people like you are not just reporters, you're lifelines.
Posted By Michele Jackson, Northridge, CA : 1:04 PM ET
Gary,
If I recall correctly, on the video shot of your journey into the mine with owner Bob Murray, your vehicle stopped to use some sort of communications equipment in order to alert others to your location within the mine. Was this communication equipment in place prior to the first collapse, or was it installed afterwards? If this equipment was installed prior to the first collapse, why wouldn't it be able to help pinpoint a more exact location of the 6 trapped miners?

Again, if my memory serves me correctly, someone (MSHA, one of the mine owners, or Sen. Hatch) indicated that sophisticated, underground mining communication equipment/technology does not yet exist.

After doing a quick Google search for "underground mine communications equipment", I found a Canadian based company that offers two-way voice and video communications for confined spaces and underground internet capabilities. I'm certainly no expert, but I would think with some knowledgeable research several other such companies could be found.

I realized that right now the priorities are different, but when an investigation does take place, won't MSHA be in charge of investigating itself? Wouldn't that be like FEMA investigating itself after Katrina? I hope we don't end up hearing President Bush saying, "Good job, Ritchie!" in reference to Richard Stickler and MSHA.

I will continue to offer up my prayers for the families and friends of all of those miners and rescue workers.

I also appreciate the informative and respectful ways you, Anderson, and others at CNN have reported these events. I hope you continue to "Keep them honest".

Thank you.
Posted By Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 1:43 PM ET
Speak up miners? Were you retreat mining? Was it dangerous to be continuing to mine there? Let your voices be heard.
Posted By Peter Warnick, sandy UT : 8:28 PM ET
I don't think this story is done yet. Too many people still looking, so keep on waiting. Sometimes miracles really do happen. I think they will be found yet!
Posted By Lauren R, Wheeling WV : 12:01 AM ET
I didn't realize that miners who have been lost in the past were not all recovered, that some men remain buried under mountains.

That grim fact did not occur to me until it was reported on ac360. I can't imagine that with our highly-evolved technology , that we cannot invent the machinery to penetrate this mountain. With all the millions in profits these mining companies make, you'd think they'd have a fallback plan for lost miners.
Posted By edward jones, durango, co. : 12:49 PM ET
I am curious if and why the mining company did not drill a larger whole as has been suggested and consider using a rescue robot to explore such an unstable and dangerous environment.
Posted By Tim Woolner, Paris Ontario CA : 2:17 PM ET
With the recent news that the digging effort has been deemed unsafe, its time to make progress on the 30 inch bore hole for rescue, or possibly recovery. That process should have been in progess the day after the last collapse.


Andrew - Hephzibah, GA
Posted By Anonymous : 1:01 AM ET
Why is the mining company still heading the operation? The MSHA should take complete control and use an outside company to look for miners. Murray is looking out for himself and no one else.
Posted By Heather - Houston, TX : 4:05 PM ET
Now we hear the effort to recover the six men may be abandoned. These families have every right to recover their loved ones even if its for the grim purpose of giving them a proper funeral. Those men worked in that coal mine to provide for their families and afford a retirement. At the end of their days I believe those men dreamed of their eternal resting place to be a green and sunny cemetary, not a dark, damp, coal dust filled mine.
Posted By Kevin - Augusta, GA : 4:00 PM ET
Anderson, Gary and 360 News Team,

Thank-you for your continued coverage of this story.

How horrible for the families of the injured and killed miners. But also tragic for the families of the miners who will never be able to say a proper good-bye to their loved ones
Posted By Anonymous : 3:04 PM ET
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