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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 12:35 GMT
Excerpts: US mine owner statement
Ben Hatfield, President of the International Coal Group
Mr Hatfield said it was the worst day of his life
Ben Hatfield, President of the International Coal Group, which owns the Sago Mine in West Virginia where 12 miners have died, has spoken about what happened.

Here are excerpts from his statement:

International Coal Group never made any release about all 12 of the miners being alive and well. We simply couldn't confirm that at that point.

There was a miscommunication and I don't know really on whose end it was, but there was a miscommunication, that resulted in the command centre believing they were told that there were 12 survivors.

And apparently the intention on the part of the rescue teams was to confirm that they had 12 individuals and they were at that point checking vital signs, trying to determine who was a survivor and who wasn't.

And that was essentially a communication - it was an incomplete evaluation - at the point that it went to the command centre.

It's a very emotional time, the employees families are grief-stricken, and frankly angry.
Ben Hatfield

That information - because we all were looking for good information and anxious to share that information - someone I'm sure with good intentions picked up that bad information and spread it to friends and passers-by, and it quickly got out of control.

Three hours ago, or ten hours ago, we would have been thrilled with the notion that there was one survivor, because at various times during the course of this rescue effort we were faced with the bleak prospect that there would be no survivors.

So let's not discount the fact that Mr McLoy has survived. His family has cause for celebration tonight despite our heartbreak.

It's a very emotional time. The employees families are grief-stricken, and frankly angry and I, I, I'm not surprised or upset with them because they certainly have... some basis for their frustration having been put thought this emotional rollercoaster.

I wouldn't wish that on anyone, I regret that it's happened, I would do anything if it had not happened.

Welcome to the worst day of my life.



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