Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Did Anybody Do Their Job

I was talking with my neighbor last evening about the miners and I told her that I doubted very seriously there would be survivors. Just before I went to bed I saw the headlines and thought "that's strange, it doesn't make sense".

Media Reports Miracle Mine Rescue -- Then Carries the Tragic Truth
Anderson Cooper, the CNN host, ripped the coal company at 3 a.m. for not correcting the wrong reports for so long, but did not explain why CNN went with the good news without strong confirmation.

The Chicago Tribune, which had reported the rescue, later carried a new story on its site opening with, "Jubilation turned to anger early Wednesday when relatives of 12 coal miners believed alive in a West Virginia coal mine blast were told that 11 of their loved ones were dead. One survivor was in critical condition at an area hospital."

It took three hours for the coal company to correct the reports. It is unclear why the media carried the news without proper sourcing. Some reports claim the early reports spread via cell phones and when loved ones started celebrating most in the media simply joined in.

In reality, rescuers had only confirmed finding 12 miners and were checking their vital signs. But what leaked out to anxious family members was that 12 were found alive.

A company spokesman, sounding like another Michael Brown, explained, ''Let's put this in perspective. Who do I tell not to celebrate? I didn't know if there were 12 or 1 [who were alive].''

"About the confusion, I can't tell you of anything more heart-wrenching than I've ever gone through in my life. Nothing," Gov. Joe Manchin, who had helped spread the good news, said.

The sole survivor of the Sago, West Virginia, disaster, identified by mining officials as 27-year-old Randal McCloy, was in the hospital in critical condition, a doctor said. When he arrived, he was unconscious but moaning, the hospital said.

Families gathered at the Sago Baptist Church began running out of the church and crying just before midnight, yelling, "They're alive!"

As an ambulance drove away from the mine carrying what families believed was the first survivor, they applauded, not yet knowing there were no others.
From beginnning to end this story was a disaster. From the OSHA violations (168) to the previously closed mine shaft (from an explosion) to the shameful way the company handled the situation, I find it hard to believe that I am reading this story in 2006 instead of 1906.

As corporate America ramps up the productivity while decreasing safety and security you can expect more tragedies like this.

Update: I just found this link, seems this isn't really a new issue, it just got lost with all the missing blonde women stories. Nasty little distraction from Abramoff though.

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