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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Catastrophe

After initial reports that 12 of 13 miners had been found alive, this being reported as late as 3 AM EST, it is now confimed:

12 of the 13 miners trapped in a collapsed West Virginia mine, were dead, not alive.

The lone "miracle" survivor, as Governor Joe Manchin is describing him, is Randal McCloy, who was pulled from the mine and is in critical condition at the time of writing.

He was stabilised in a local hospital, before being evac'ed to a trauma centre in nearby Ruby, if I understood the Governor correctly.

I cannot express to you the shock I feel, as I had gotten up after having fallen asleep reading a book on Pope Benedict XVI, after what had been a cheery evening of college football posting.

From entertained, to thankful when I heard that 12 of 13 miners were alive, my emotions have been immediately catapaulted to bewildered, and extremely saddened.

Somewhere out there, is a person who spread the erroneous news to the waiting world, and desperate families, that though one miner was dead, 12 had been found alive.

Whoever that person is, whether they did this out of malice, or out of exuberant guessing, they are guilty of something which is not criminal, since lying in a social context is not a crime, but is despicable nonetheless.

Raising false hope to fearful families, whose loved ones are virtually in extremis.



Disgusting.

As I type, the Governor, who as can be imagined, looks haggard, and is being set upon by the braying news hounds, looking to see who they can blame for this "misunderstanding", is fielding questions about his premature elation.

It is true that the Governor should have more news than idle bystanders, and even the press, but in the hectic moments after any announcement, especially as the celebratory church bells were already ringing, anything can happen.

He said, he tried to confirm the original statements, but before he could, pandemonium, and relieved joy had broken out.

Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that only today have events become politicised.

Every event concerning public officials in almost all of human history, have been spun, and politicised in so many ways.

Having said that, I personally refuse to join this blood-sniffing sport which seems accentuated in the past 40 years, culminating to hysterical levels in the past 13.

I know the Governor's Party affiliation, but I refuse to point fingers and say, aha! he failed, deriving some pleasure because it's not necessarily my own.

In short, I draw the line in the sand at Katrina'ing any catastrophe of this magnitude.

If there were failures, it's nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican, but because of circumstances and conditions which could happen to anyone of any political stripe.

Our first, last, and only concern should be in sending as many positive thoughts to the families of those whose lives will never be the same after today.

Some call this sympathy, or good vibes.

I call it prayer.

(More updates, later...)

UPDATE: CNN's "crawl" reporting that this is West Virginia's worst mining disaster since 1968.

West Virginia is usually the butt of jokes, being called everything from inbred, to hillbilly, to podunk, in the great roster of American states.

Like Wales, or the North of England, many on its land depend on mining, a dirty, dangerous trade. But an heroic one.

Do you know what it must be like to go down a narrow shaft, day after day, FOR YEARS, toiling in back-breaking work, the kind which almost seems anachronistic in today's computer-reliant First World?

I couldn't do it.

I doubt anyone in my intellect-cushy family could either.

And for this miners are almost as winked at by snobs for their alleged insular lives, and homespun pleasures, as are any people who have callused hands, and not manicured fingers.

Well pfui to that.

Maybe I couldn't do what they do, maybe I wouldn't like to live as they do, but I respect the hell out of anyone who can.

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12 Comments:

  • This is incredibly macabre news. There seems to have been quite a few underlying problems, with this mine and the industry as a whole that caused this incident.

    The greater tragedy is that we still rely on an incredibly dirty fossil fuel to power our lives, when nuclear is both safer and renewable if used properly.

    You can find all my reasons for preferring nuclear, as well as commentary about the Chinese coal situation (6500 deaths per year) at Earth Sentinel where you will also find peak oil, renewable energy, and climate change news.

    By Anonymous Earth Sentinel, at Wed Jan 04, 07:22:00 am GMT-5  

  • Oh, man.
    I went to bed with two joys last night, my team had won and 12 miners, after so long a time were alive. A miracle and was I happy, so happy.
    I can't express my sorrow for these people; for the last tragic act put upon them.
    I'm standing with you. I don't know, at this moment, the governor's affiliation, don't care. God, if there were someone who didn't want those men coming out alive, who at the first mention of life would not have hearts soaring. Damn every human frailty but this may be our worst.

    That church, what a scene of screaming, crying happiness it must have been. What shouts and tears of praise to their Almighty. For how long? How long before they knew? No human can adequately describe what then must have happened. I wouldn't want to try. Someone should.

    I'm sorry you saw the false report before this morning. I doubt you slept much.

    By Blogger Paul, at Wed Jan 04, 08:24:00 am GMT-5  

  • There is a time for everything.

    There will be investigations of what went wrong (starting with the accident itself), and if anyone made a mistake, that will come out. And that much should happen, because as a society we owe it to the dead men and to the tens of thousands of coal miners who got up this morning, heard the news and went to work anyway, not to whitewash anything, learn the whole story, and maybe make changes if they are warranted.

    But I would agree with you, that while Mr. McCloy is fighting for his life and twelve families in a small town are burying their dead, it is not the time to play the blame game.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Wed Jan 04, 10:41:00 am GMT-5  

  • earth sentinel:

    I live in Arizona, and you might want to read this article from the Arizona Republic Monday before you say how much you love nuclear. The reservation (just a few miles from my house) is full of people who are dying (or their family members have died) from the effects of uranium mining. It is so bad that now that there is a renewed interest in the stuff, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley has banned anymore mining on reservation land (although what that means is that they will be pushing it towards Vermilion cliffs). Mining uranium is every bet as deadly as mining coal, and there is no way around that. If you come here and visit, especially on the reservation, you will absolutely be convinced of that.

    By Blogger Eli Blake, at Wed Jan 04, 10:48:00 am GMT-5  

  • Claustrophobia would make it impossible for me to go down in a mine.

    According to reports I've seen, these mine owners are well-known in the industry for safety. They've improved the safety of many places they've bought. Just what I've read today.

    The Democrats are already calling for an investigation regarding the accident and the 'miscommunications'. Got to stay on top of the news cycle, right?

    By Anonymous benning, at Wed Jan 04, 11:11:00 pm GMT-5  

  • This is incredibly macabre news. There seems to have been quite a few underlying problems, with this mine and the industry as a whole that caused this incident.

    Well, first thanks for posting your comment, Earth Sentinel.

    It's been mentioned that the mine was cited 200 times in 2005, ALONE.

    My God. Is this common in the mining business, I wonder?

    The greater tragedy is that we still rely on an incredibly dirty fossil fuel to power our lives, when nuclear is both safer and renewable if used properly.

    I'm afraid I'm don't share that opinion, ES.

    You can find all my reasons for preferring nuclear, as well as commentary about the Chinese coal situation (6500 deaths per year) at Earth Sentinel where you will also find peak oil, renewable energy, and climate change news.

    But I keep an open mind. I'll look at it.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 12:15:00 am GMT-5  

  • That church, what a scene of screaming, crying happiness it must have been. What shouts and tears of praise to their Almighty. For how long? How long before they knew? No human can adequately describe what then must have happened. I wouldn't want to try. Someone should.

    Very well put, Paul.

    I'm sorry you saw the false report before this morning. I doubt you slept much.

    I didn't, but out of nervous excitement in my personal life too.

    You'll see why when I update the blog Thursday.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 12:17:00 am GMT-5  

  • But I would agree with you, that while Mr. McCloy is fighting for his life and twelve families in a small town are burying their dead, it is not the time to play the blame game.

    Whilst it is important to interview, and start sifting whilst the clues are still fresh, the blame game doesn't have to start until AT LEAST the 12 miners have been buried.

    There's plenty of time for that...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 12:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • Mining uranium is every bet as deadly as mining coal, and there is no way around that. If you come here and visit, especially on the reservation, you will absolutely be convinced of that.

    Good Lord.

    It stands to reason of course, but I hadn't realised it was that bad until now...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 12:19:00 am GMT-5  

  • Claustrophobia would make it impossible for me to go down in a mine.

    I am not claustrophic, but I hate creepy-crawlies -- so that's out for me, even if I was eligible.

    Women, of course, lack the requisite upper-body strength often needed in mining jobs.

    Although I'm sure there must be SOME, being America and all.

    According to reports I've seen, these mine owners are well-known in the industry for safety. They've improved the safety of many places they've bought. Just what I've read today.

    Let me tell you that the mining industry of every country has improved vastly since the XIXth century.

    It's much more a consortium of like-people, with middle-management etc, looking out for the welfare of the miners, than the more hazardous, uncaring days of yore.

    Of course, no industry or company is perfect.

    But much better to be a miner today, than yesterday (even given the devastating news of last night).

    The Democrats are already calling for an investigation regarding the accident and the 'miscommunications'. Got to stay on top of the news cycle, right?

    Did you happen to watch John Gibson in his 5 PM programme?

    He all but blamed US, the viewers for this miscommunication.

    He said that since it's live-tv, and real-time is so unforgiving to newsstories, that mistakes like this are bound to happen.

    Eh.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 12:24:00 am GMT-5  

  • He said that since it's live-tv, and real-time is so unforgiving to newsstories, that mistakes like this are bound to happen.

    What happened to fact checking or confirming sources?

    By Blogger Renato, at Thu Jan 05, 10:12:00 am GMT-5  

  • What happened to fact checking or confirming sources?

    They're only important when you're trying to bring down a hated administration...maybe.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Jan 05, 06:25:00 pm GMT-5  

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