Originally created 01/04/06

Family members report 12 trapped miners are alive



TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. - In an extraordinary twist of fate, 12 miners caught in an explosion in a coal mine were found alive late Tuesday, more than 41 hours after the blast.

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," Gov. Joe Manchin said. "We have some people that are going to need some medical attention."

A few minutes after word came, the throng, several hundred strong, broke into a chorus of the hymn "How Great Thou Art," in a chilly, night air.

"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.

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

There were hugs and tears among the crowd outside the Sago Baptist Church near the mine, about 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 260 feet below the surface of the mine after an explosion early Monday.

Rescue crews found one body Tuesday evening and said they were holding out hope that the others were still alive, even as precious time continued to slip away.

The unidentified body was found about 700 feet from a mine car, and it appeared the employee was working on a beltline, which brings coal out of the mine, said Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer for ICG of Ashland, Ky.