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January 4, 2006
One Final Cruelty In The Mines Of West Virginia

The story of the thirteen trapped miners ended in cruelty and tragedy this morning, after a mistaken announcement left family and friends celebrating what they thought had been a miraculous rescue of twelve miners. Instead, rescuers only found one man barely alive, and the others all dead:

Great joy turned suddenly to deep sorrow Wednesday morning when stunned family members were told that 12 of the 13 miners trapped 13,000 feet into a mountainside since early Monday were dead rather than alive, as they, and the world, had been told hours earlier.

The first announcement, of a "miracle," was the result of a "miscommunication," a company official said.

The new announcement came at roughly 3 a.m., interrupting and then silencing celebratory church bells in this small town and leaving relatives of the miners in shock, grief and anger.

The new announcement, officially made by Ben Hatfield, CEO of the International Coal Group, was that one miner was alive, in critical condition at a local hospital. He was found near a vehicle in the mine, somewhere near the site of an apparent explosion Monday.

Our prayers are with the people of Sago and Tallmansville this morning. This news comes about as cruelly as anyone could have contrived. When I went to bed last night, unfortunately very late, the news had come across the wires that the men had been located alive but in need of medical attention -- not surprising, under the circumstances. The television showed pictures of the families and communities celebrating with tears of joy, and it was easy to join them. How that could have gotten screwed up remains to be seen, but they are now irate as well as devastated by their loss -- made double by their celebrations.

How awful. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 4, 2006 5:16 AM

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