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Deadly Mine Explosion in West Virginia

Aired April 5, 2010 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight: the urgent search-and-rescue operation under way right now after something -- we don't know what -- triggered a deadly coal mine investigation in West Virginia.

We all remember the Sago Mine disaster, the trapped miners, the vigils, the funerals. Well, now it is happening again at a mine with a recent history of safety violations, dozens of them serious. Seven are dead.

Let's go over to the wall. I want to show you where this is happening, a little bit more about these safety violations that we found. It's the Upper Big Branch mine. This is in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.

Seven dead right now, at least 19 unaccounted for, 21 injured. Let's give you a little bit of detail about where they worked. Upper Big Branch is run by Performance Coal , which is a subsidiary of a company called Massey Energy. There are about 200 people working in this mine.

State officials say they got first word of the blast about 3:00 p.m. Now, this is not the mine's first deadly incident. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, MSHA, three people have died in this mine since 1998.

Now, when we looked it the mine on MSHA's database of violations, we counted 53 violations in the month of March alone, in one month, 122 this year, some of them apparently serious. The most recent was less than a weak ago. It had to do with submitting a plan for proper ventilation -- ventilation obviously crucial for removing gases that can be explosive.

There was also problems with substandard dust collectors to tamp down coal dust, also explosive, electrical equipment maintenance, some of which can trigger fires and explosions, problems with escapeways and escape equipment, and 49 more violations this year alone, 53 total for the year.

In fact, according to the publisher of "Mine Safety and Health News," this mine racked up 498 last year, including 50 so-called unwarrantable failure citations, which is the most serious negligence finding a mine inspector can issue.

And we are just getting in new video from our affiliate WVVA, ambulances, other emergency crews coming and going. Authorities have set up a perimeter around the mine.

WVVA's Carter Johnson is just back from inside. She joins us on the phone.

Cater, what did you see when you were up there?


It was pretty chaotic on the scene, actually. There were a lot of family members showing up this afternoon, saying: We don't know anything. My son is in there.

One lady came up to me crying and said, what do you know?

And, unfortunately, I couldn't tell her the information that she was looking for. But -- and a lot of miners showing up. I just talked to a miner here on the scene and he said he was scared to death. He didn't -- didn't want to go back in the mine tonight, and said he hadn't been a miner for long. He had been working there a couple months. And he works at a different mine close by.

But you just could see the fear in his face. And definitely, just walking around the community now, you can see shock, devastation. A lady here told me that everyone knows someone who works for a mine in this small community.

COOPER: And, Carter, when I was up at the Sago Mine, at that disaster, there was sort of a marshaling area. Families would go to the nearby church in Buckhannon. And that's where information would be passed to them. Has an area been set up, to your knowledge, for family members?

JOHNSON: Yes. Well, I'm not sure about the family members. I know that there is a media center. I'm sure that there is an area where they're sending the family members. It is just getting them to that point, because they're showing up. There is kind of one road in and one road out.

And traffic is tied up. They're kind of rerouting everyone, trying to get them in the right place. I did hear from a person outside. Of course, this is unconfirmed, because this is just what a miner told me, or -- it wasn't a miner -- it was an individual -- said that they -- I think her sister had received a call that an uncle was killed in the mine.

So, already, maybe some of the family members have been notified. Of course, family members who haven't heard anything are still questioning, still showing up. I have seen people just kind of walking around crying, a lot of concern, and probably still a lot of people who are unsure at this point as to the safety of their family.

COOPER: And, Carter, one of the images we're looking at right now is basically a lot of SUVs, emergency responders on the side of the road. It looks like clogged traffic.

JOHNSON: Yes. COOPER: How remote is this mine area?

JOHNSON: Very, very remote. Cell phone service is very difficult to come by, which made it hard for everyone and I'm sure hard for the responders as well, because it is a very large mine.

And, so, from the entrance of the main down to the site is about three mile. And that whole area, the one -- you know, it's -- there is not a lot of room for traffic, for (INAUDIBLE) cars were trying to get in. No one was moving. So, it's kind of a very difficult scene, difficult for the first-responders to get through, for the family members to get through, and for the police to kind of monitor.

COOPER: Well, let's certainly -- let's hope they set up some sort of system for family members, because, as -- we all saw at the Sago Mine what happens when they don't inform family members in a timely manner, and they allow just kind of drips and drabs of rumors to get going in family members' minds.

JOHNSON: Right. And they could -- they could have done that.

COOPER: Go ahead. Yes.

JOHNSON: I wasn't able to talk to any of the family members.

COOPER: At what point -- do you know where the explosion occurred in this mine?

JOHNSON: Not exactly.

We were able to get closer to the location, just sort of from here, say, it was down further from the entrance. I don't know -- you know, there are different areas in the mine, and the miner who I talked kind of tried to explain that to me.

But I don't know exactly where it took place, other than, you know, that it was kind of deep, further into the actual facility.

COOPER: And have you received any updates? I mean, the death toll is, as it stands, seven dead, 19 still missing. As far as you know, that is still the latest?

JOHNSON: Yes. As far as I know, that was the last report that I had heard.

COOPER: Carter Johnson, I'm sure it's been a busy couple hours and I'm sure it's going to be a long night for you. Appreciate you being with us. We will check in with you throughout the next two hours, as we continue to cover this.

Joining us now is Mark Radomsky of the miners training program at Penn State University. On the phone is Dennis O'Dell of United Mine Workers of America, and former mine regulator in the Clinton administration Davitt McAteer.

Dennis, the miners that are still unaccounted for, with an explosion like this -- and we don't know what the cause of the explosion was -- what is -- what happens after an explosion like this? What is the training that is supposed to kick in? What are the miners told to do?

DENNIS O'DELL, SAFETY AND HEALTH DIRECTOR, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA: Well, first and foremost, what they teach them in their training is to try to escape at all means.

So, they go to their escape routes and try to see if they can access safely to get out of the coal mines. Of course, they don their self-rescuers immediately once they see that they are in an atmospheric area that there is smoke or high CO or what have you.

So, once they don their self-rescuers, they go to their escape routes and see if they can escape the mine. If that's not possible, if all escape routes are cut off, then, under the Miner Act, as you recall, they passed new language that allows for shelters and chambers to be placed in mines.

So, if they see that their route of escape is cut off, they will go to these shelters, and they will access to shelters and wait until the rescue teams...


COOPER: And according to the governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin, he said that he had spoken to Don Blankenship, who is the CEO of Massey Energy, which is the company that own these mines, and they say -- they're claiming that mine was equipped with rescue chambers which was put in place after the Sago incident, put in place back in 2006, and that those chambers have supplies with first-aid kits, oxygen tanks, and the like.

How big are these chambers?

O'DELL: Well, the chambers, they're supposed to have enough -- enough shelters or chambers in the mine to accommodate the number of miners that will be underground at all times.

So, depending on the number of miners that were underground, there should be shelters in place to accommodate those numbers.

COOPER: Mark, in terms of -- most of the really tragic incidents that we have seen in the last couple years has been due to methane explosions. What is the list of things that could have gone wrong here, that could have caused an explosion?


So, when you have an accumulation of methane that's beyond the 1 percent, then the miners react to that, and they retreat from that area and try to determine why you have higher levels of methane.

Of course, methane is explosive in the range of 5 to 15 percent. So, there could be some problem with the ventilation system, and that could lead to an accumulation of methane in some part of the mine.

COOPER: Davitt, in terms of rescue operations, how complex is this and just getting the right kind of people with rescue training to the scene?

RADOMSKY: Well, again, as you will recall, after the Miner Act, the regulations were strengthened in terms of the response time, so MSHA would have been notified within 15 minutes of learning of the incident.

And then the mine rescue team would be within an hour of the mine. So, they would immediately dispatch to the mine and set up the command center, and then follow their protocol to rescue the miners.

COOPER: Davitt, when you look at the safety record of this mine -- they seemed to have had a number of violations just in the past year -- what do you make of that? Is that unusual?

J. DAVITT MCATEER, FORMER MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR: It's a large mine, but that number of violations that you cited earlier in the piece would suggest to us that there has been some problems with safety in this mine, particularly the types of violations that were mentioned, and those were violations which deal with areas like dust, areas like the ventilation system, et cetera.

Those are troubling. And that's something that I think you have to take a hard look at. Of course, it is all speculation at this point. We don't know what caused this accident. But it is un -- it's a very troubling circumstance.

COOPER: And...


O'DELL: I think the thing that you have pointed out, Anderson, was -- with the earlier reporter -- this is a very difficult circumstance to get in and get out and get rescue teams in and out. We don't know where they are in that stage of the development.

But just to get the rescue teams in there and get them operational, it takes quite a bit of time, especially under difficult conditions.

COOPER: Yes, Dennis O'Dell, these rescue teams, who are the people? They're not necessarily people who work at this particular mine. They're in surrounding areas; is that correct?

O'DELL: In surrounding areas, and they're supposed to have their own mine rescue teams that are employed at that mine as well. So, they should have mine rescue team members who are familiar with that mine.

COOPER: And, again, I do not want to speculate, because there may be family members watching this, and I just don't want to go down that road. But when you look, Dennis, at some of these violations, 122 violations this year, 53 in the month of March, substandard dust collectors, electrical equipment maintenance, problems with escapeways and escape equipment, I mean, that seems particularly ominous, given the situation right now.

O'DELL: Yes. I got on the MSHA Web site and look at their violation history.

And when you look at those citations that have been issued so far, a lot of them have not been assessed as far as the dollar amount yet. And the other troubling thing I saw was not only the type of citations that have been ordered, but those that have been contested.

We saw that as a way for operators to tie up the system, so that they don't get this history built up against their mine that could place them on a pattern of violations, which would give MSHA a stronger stick to make them adhere to the new safety regulations.

So, there were some troubling citations that I looked at, some pretty high-dollar citations that have been issued. They have got some D2 (ph) -- D2 (ph) orders that were issued there, which are serious. So, without knowing exactly what they were, at first glance, they looked like they had a serious violation history.

COOPER: Are any of you by a television and actually see the will images that we're showing?

O'DELL: Yes.

COOPER: OK. If -- if we could put on the Google map of the mine, and if somebody who can see it could just explain to me kind of what the images we are looking at, once this actually zooms in and we actually see the mine.

Those large white -- what are those large white things that look like tracks? Is that just a road?

O'DELL: Oh, that -- what large white things are you talking about?

COOPER: Well, can you describe the image that is on the screen now, can you explain...

O'DELL: Well, it looks like the overland belt system that brings the coal out of the mine...

COOPER: So, that's on the left-hand side?

O'DELL: ... is part of the pictures.

The area to left looks like a coal stockpile, where the coal is dumped on the surface. You see the big large black area. That's coal that's dumped from the underground portion of the coal mine. And then some of the buildings look like they may be the bath houses and facilities such as that. COOPER: And, Davitt, a mine like this, how deep can it go? Because we don't know where this explosion took place at this point.

MCATEER: The average underground mine in the country is about 830 feet. But they can go quite a bit deeper than that.

And a large mine, Anderson, will spread out in great distances. It can go for several miles underground. And, so, that's part of the problem, is -- part of the problem is that you can't -- you can't make a determination as to the location, as, you will recall, at Sago, there was such a difficult time finding the miners, and then getting at that and getting at -- so that you can contact them.

These problems continue to exist. I was struck by your comment earlier about the Sago experience and the Miner Act and how we were trying to get to a place where we wanted to have better communications, better rescue chambers, better ombudsmen for the families, but we're still struggling with this six and seven hours later right now.


We have to take a short break. We are going to continue our conversation with our panel of experts. There's no one who knows this stuff better than the three men we have assembled.

We're going to be right back with that.

Let us know what you think. You can join the live chat at

We're going to have more on precisely how the Upper Big Branch mine worked, and, as we have been talking about, the hazards of that kind of mining. Tom Foreman is going to show us literally layer by layer.

Also tonight, Sean Penn is live in Haiti for us on what is being done and what is not being done to provide shelter for tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people now living in the rain. "Keeping Them Honest" on that.

A lot more ahead. Stay tuned.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my dad, man. And I don't know if he's all right. I don't know what is going on. They won't tell us nothing.

QUESTION: So, your dad might be in there?


QUESTION: You have got to tell us, exactly how worried are you? Like, what's been going through your mind here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, man. I don't know how to explain it. It's like you got hit in the gut right there real hard.


COOPER: Well, you can imagine how he feels. It's a stupid question to ask someone in that situation.

He's the son of a trapped miner. We don't know his name, but he also works in the mine. He is waiting for word, as are so many at this hour, along with the families of 18 others trapped inside the Upper Big Branch coal mine south of Charleston, West Virginia.

These are the pictures we're just getting in, the slow road up there. We have been seeing a lot of traffic, we have been seeing a lot of ambulances going up, trying to make their way up there.

We have also seen some mine rescue vehicles heading up there as well. Seven miners are dead. We know that at this point. That's been confirmed.

As we have been talking about, this is a mine with a history of safety violations, a lot of them recent, in the last month, a lot of them in the last year. And the state certainly has a history of mine tragedies.

Four years, who can forget 12 miners dying at the Sago Mine. And, in the wake of that, as we talked about moments ago, the federal government mandated that mines have better safety equipment to locate missing miners and communicate with them.

Now, according to the state's major paper, "The Charleston Gazette," 491 mines nationwide are supposed to have this new gear. But, four years later, only 34 mines meet those new requirements. Twenty-three of them are in West Virginia. But get this. The state has 197 underground mines. So, that's just one in eight in compliance. And we don't know if Upper Big Branch is among them.

Let's turn now to Tom Foreman, who has been looking at the type of mining being done where the explosion happened and how things can go fatally wrong -- Tom.


We have been talking a lot about the things we do know here. We believe that what we're dealing with here it called long wall mining. I want to talk about what that means beneath the ground.

This is at type of mining that was actually pioneered in England several hundred years ago, but has really caught on in the past 30 years here because of new technology, primarily because mine owners have believed that this new technology might allow them to automate further, which would reduce the risk to miners and produce more coal.

So, let's take a little section of the land here. If we were to cut part of this out just like that, and we were able to move this aside and say this is what it looks like underneath -- this is from YouTube. A fellow put together a demonstration of what happens with long wall mining.

You may notice here that this is a seam of coal. And you will how there have been little rooms cut in on the sides over here. This is the beginning of long wall mining. You cut off an area like this. You create a field. And this may be enormous. It is like 800 feet across here. It can be as much as a mile or more long this way.

And then this is what happens. They start cutting away at the face of that. That's about eight feet tall. They cut, cut, cut. You can see a tremendous amount of coal would come out of it cutting it this way.

But I do want to point out that this video is a little bit deceptive, because what you don't see here is, as they are cutting out all that coal out, you're not creating a big giant room here. What you're doing is you're allowing to it all collapse in behind you as you cut.

So, you're actually filling in all of this area with the mountainside collapsing behind you. And the actual working area is actually only about 15 feet or so from the face right up in here. So, this is the area we're looking at when we're focusing on this idea of long wall mining.

Now, I'm going to move this aside, because I want to you look now a little bit closer at what this actually looks like. This is the machine that does it. It's a little hard to see here. This is from the government.

But it is a video they had online. You can see, this is the type of cutter that moves along that face, cutting at that face of coal. Here's the cutter over here. Here are the workers over here. Now, I want to stop this for a moment. You see the big wheel turning there? That may be cutting 3.5 feet of coal at a time deep into the wall. So, you can see a tremendous amount coming off.

This over here are shields that are put in. They're hydraulically supported. There may be 100 of these in a row to give these workers and these machines a way to move back and forth across that face. You can see the shield comes up here and over the top, tremendously powerful.

These shields could support the weight of an entire locomotive and all the cars with it, up to 600, 800 tons at a time of weight on the top, but, again, only about 15 feet of space here.

Here's the other important part I really want you to think about as we go through here, Anderson. As we roll through, you have all of this space here. That grinding on the surface up front produces an enormous amount of coal dust. That is what you're seeing right there.

And that's the issue of ventilation here. What are the dangers if you have this kind of operation going on, on the face of coal? You have this issue of coal dust building up. That's a potential threat, because it is enormously explosive.

You also have the threat of methane building up if it's not vented enough, also enormously explosive. And, because of all the weight here and the width of this, you always have the danger of some kind of structural collapse.

Again, many people believe this is less likely to produce a structural collapse than the other method of cutting out little rooms and leaving pillars. But, nonetheless, when you put all of these together, this is the danger.

And when I look at those violations you're talking about, Anderson, we don't know what went on underground. We do know that this method, which has grown more and more popular and is most popular in West Virginia, does produce a tremendous amount of coal dust and methane. And ventilation along the face of that is always a big issue -- Anderson.

COOPER: Tom Foreman, appreciate it.

I just got a note, by the way, that -- we showed you a short little sound bite from a son of a missing miner. I have just learned his name. His name is Eric Martin (ph). That's the man we showed you talking about his concerns for his dad.

And, basically, he said he didn't have any information, that they hadn't been given any information, which is obviously a troubling thing at this late hour.

Back with our panel of experts in a moment. We're going to be staying on this breaking story tonight.

Also ahead, though, the attack on Americans in Pakistan -- a Taliban strike, two explosions, and who paid the ultimate price to save others. We have details on that.

Also, Tiger Woods facing the cameras again. We will play you some of the things he said at his press conference, his own words -- tonight on 360.


COOPER: Updating our breaking news now, a major mining disaster leaves seven dead at the Upper Big Branch coal mine south of Charleston, West Virginia, 21 hurt, 19 unaccounted for. We're talking about a lot of people here, the cause not yet known, possible suspects, coal dust, methane gas.

We have got on the phone now someone who wants to -- does not want to give his name, but is a former miner at this -- this mine.

When you heard that there was this explosion, what went through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, I was just thinking of who I knew of that might have been hurt or in it. Really, that's all that was flashing through my mind.

COOPER: What is it like inside this mine? How long were you working there? What are conditions like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well (AUDIO GAP) there almost three months. (AUDIO GAP)

Well, the conditions of the mine, they were pretty good. But there were some places, it was -- it's not really all that great. But there was coal down there that was three foot high and there was coal that was seven feet high. It just depends where you was.

COOPER: And in terms of safety training, did you feel that you knew what to do in an emergency?


COOPER: What kind of training did you get in safety things?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well (AUDIO GAP) of course. That's required by law to even enter an underground mine.

So, I mean, I had that. And that's a two-week class you have to take before you even think about going underground. And it explains all. That's everything (AUDIO GAP) your safety equipment operations, everything.

COOPER: And this mine had rescue chambers? Is that right?


COOPER: I have read -- I have heard the CEO said that this mine did have rescue chambers equipped with first-aid equipment.


COOPER: Is that, to your knowledge, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. There was one on every section, and there was two on the main line on the way in.

COOPER: Well, I know your thoughts tonight are clearly with the folks who you may know inside there. I appreciate you talking with us. Thank you.

I want to bring back our panel of mining experts, Mark Radomsky, Dennis O'Dell, and Davitt McAteer.

Davitt, when -- when -- in terms of explosions, I know there's basically -- there's methane gas. I mean, the two biggest threats are methane gas and coal dust. What are the -- how are they different?

MCATEER: Well, Anderson, the two threats are this way. Methane is a lesser explosive volume. You create lesser amounts of energy when you explode methane. Coal dust finds -- ground-up coal dust creates a lot more energy, about 10 times as much. But methane occurs naturally. It is basically natural gas, so what you would get out of your stove. And it occurs naturally in the mining operation.

The coal dust occurs, obviously, as you're grinding the coal to get it out of the ground. Those -- those systems, however, have been around a long time. Both problems have been around 100 years. And we have methods that should be in place to remove those dangers by first ventilating the methane, that is, to blow it -- in effect, blow it out of the mine and out of harm's way.

And, with coal dust, we have responsibility and requirements that you're to collect the dust, and you not allow accumulation of dust to occur in those mines. So, there are prevention schemes that are in existence and that have worked effectively in mines for a number of years and, in fact, for a number of decades.

And, so, that's why it is all the more troubling, if it is one of these causes, for us to have a scheme that doesn't work in a rather large operation. And, as you mentioned, this is a large number of people, suggesting that there may have been a shift change, or suggesting that there were more than one crew of miners involved in this.

The size of the explosion, the fact that seven miners were killed, that quite a number, a substantial number, were injured would suggest that it is a large explosion that has a lot of force to it. That's very troubling.

And the fact that we still are this many hours later, and haven't made contact, or we don't know whether there has been contact with the missing miners is also very troubling and a disconcerting area.

COOPER: Mark Radomsky, one of the things, certainly, that happened in the Sago Mine incident was a lack of communication, and miscommunication, which was then, you know, given to family members by people who were working on the -- at the coordinating center, giving false information that the miners were alive and then, of course, the horrific news when family later learned hours later that the miners were dead, the 12 miners died.

Have communications gotten much better?

MARK RADOMSKY, PENN STATE, MINERS TRAINING PROGRAM: Well, I think, as you recall in the Sago, there was a miscommunication between the mine rescue team and the outside. Yes, communicating has improved. Initially, after the Miner Act was passed, we had -- we had the zone communication.

So a person in the mine would call out and tell the person on the surface where miners were in terms of zones. And then, as miners moved from zone to zone, they contacted the outside. So in not too many months after the Miner Act, communication did improve. Of course, now we have the technology for communication and tracking that's just being implemented, you know, currently. So yes, it definitely has improved.

COOPER: Dennis O'Dell, what do you think is happening now in terms of organization on the ground outside this mine, in terms of rescue and just coordination? Whose responsibility is it? Who's in charge?

O'DELL: Well, hopefully, it is an effort by all parties to sit down and devise a plan on the rescue of the miners who are trapped. In other words, for the operator and the state the federal agencies to be in a command center and lay out a game plan as to how they're going to go into the mine and make it safe for the mine rescue teams that are entering into the coal mines. So hopefully, it's a joint effort by all parties.

MSHA has the authority that, if they see that it's necessary to take the mine over to take control, they have a tool put in place that they can do that. And I don't know that they've done it at this point, but the mine will be under a K-order which everything has to go through their agency. They have to submit plans, naturally, as to how the rescue is going to be made. MSHA has to approve the plans and move forward.

COOPER: We're going to have a lot more on this throughout the hour. Mark Radomsky, Dennis O'Dell, Davitt McAteer, I appreciate your expertise. We'll be consulting you throughout this difficult night. We're going to continue to follow the breaking story through the program.

Also, though, tonight, other news. Tiger Woods in his own words, just days before teeing off at the Masters. He faces reporters at Augusta and answers some questions for the first time, although frankly he wasn't all that forthcoming. We'll tell you and show you what he said.

Also Sean Penn live in Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Is the government there doing enough to keep close to a million homeless quake survivors safe from the rain and floods? We're "Keeping Them Honest." Also, you can ask Sean Penn a question by texting it to AC360, or 22360.


COOPER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news out of West Virginia. A mining explosion has killed seven and 19 others still are unaccounted for. We're going to have the latest information coming up a little bit later.

But first, another story we're covering tonight. Tiger Woods, a lot has happened to him since the infamous late-night car crash back in November. The sex scandal has taken its toll on the golfer, his family, certainly. He's lost fans and sponsors, though through it all, Woods has kept a very low profile.

Today, though, in his very first public return to the sport that made him famous, he addressed a press conference full of reporters. He's at the -- Augusta, Georgia, preparing for this week's Masters Tournament. He held a news conference, his first news conference since the reports of his infidelity surfaced. He fielded questions on his family, his future and the lies he said he told to everyone, including himself.

Here is Tiger Woods in his own words.


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Unfortunately, what I have done over the past years has been just -- just terrible to my family. And the fact I won golf tournaments, I think, is irrelevant. It's the pain, the damage that I've caused. My wife, my mom, my wife's family, my kids going forward are going to have to -- I'm going to have to explain all this to them.

And that's -- that's my responsibility. I did it.

I've never been in this position before. To be out there in front of the people where I have, I've done some things that are just, you know, horrible. And for the fans to really want to see me play golf again, that felt great.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still in rehab and what was it for?

WOODS: You know, I -- you know, I was in there for 45 days, and it was to take a hard look at myself and I did. And I've come out better. Certainly, I'm a much better person for it than I was going in.

And does that mean I'm ever going to stop doing that? No. I've got to still continue with my treatment. I meditate religiously again, like I used to. I've gone back to my -- my roots in Buddhism with my mom. I need to do these things the way I used to do it, and unfortunately, I got away from that. And I just lost that and, unfortunately, also lost my life in the process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiger, will Elin and the kids be joining you this week (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

WOODS: Elin is not -- not to this one (ph), no.


WOODS: I'm excited to play this week. It feels fun again. That's something that has been missing. Have I been winning? Have I been competing and doing well? Yes, I have. I have won numerous tournaments the last few years, but I wasn't having anywhere near the amount of fun.

And why? Just look what I was engaged in. When you're living a life where you're lying all the time, it's -- life is not fun. That's -- and that's where I was. Now, that's been stripped all away, and here I am. And it feels fun again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Still ahead, we're going to talk to Sean Penn live in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, about what's going to happen to hundreds of thousands of people living in tent cities when the rains come. Who's responsible for their safety?

First, though, Lisa Bloom joins us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Lisa.


Eight people are dead after a terrorist attack near the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. Two of the victims were security guards at the consulate. No Americans were killed. The U.S. embassy says the coordinated attack involved a suicide car bomb, and attackers armed with grenades and guns. The Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs says the White House is frustrated by a promise Afghan President Hamid Karzai made to tribal leaders in his country. Yesterday, Karzai told the leaders he would hold off a NATO military offensive in Kandahar until he had their backing.

The Transportation Department wants to slap a record $16.4 million penalty on Toyota. It says the automaker knew it had a problem with sticking gas pedals in September but didn't issue a recall until late January.

Toyota has two weeks to accept or contest the penalty.

And thousands of kids turned out for the White House Easter egg roll, but they might not have been there just for the eggs, Anderson. The celebration also featured performance by Pop star Justin Bieber and the cast of the television show "Glee."

COOPER: That looked like fun. Lisa, thank you.



BLOOM: I was going to say, are you a Justin Bieber fan?

COOPER: You know, I did now know I didn't know who this person was until, like, a couple days ago. I saw him in the...

BLOOM: He's huge. He's everywhere. You guys look like slackers.

COOPER: What is he, like, 9 years old or something?

BLOOM: He's 16.

COOPER: All right.

Anyway, coming up next, Sean Penn, he's in Haiti to tell us about the dire situation facing survivors. Hundreds of thousands of people now threatened by the rains. Sean Penn joins us live after the break.

And our breaking coverage of the mining disaster continues. A developing story. We're going to -- constantly getting new details. We'll have those -- the latest information for you coming up, straight ahead.


COOPER: We continue to follow the breaking news out of West Virginia. Seven miners dead, 19 others still missing after an explosion erupted inside an underground mine. We'll have the latest on that with our experts in a moment.

But first, want to talk about new fears and new threats for the survivors in Haiti. That's the reality right now for hundreds of thousands of homeless men, women and kids. They're preparing for the rainy season. Rains have already come. The really big rains are coming very shortly. It could bring more suffering for the devastated country.

Over a million people are right now living in tent cities. Think about that. Over a million people are homeless right now. The question is where do they go for shelter when the rains will come?

I talk to Sean Penn, who's been on the ground for an awfully long time now in Port-au-Prince. His JP Haitian Relief organization is running one of the camps.

Sean, how many people do you have in your camp right now?

SEAN PENN, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: It's estimated between 50 and 60,000.

COOPER: And what's going to happen to them? Is there a plan now for where they're going to go?

PENN: I think one of the things that people should understand is that, without the earthquake, enormous numbers die in the rains in Haiti every year. And with this devastation, following the earthquake, they've moved into worse places than that. And there's a whole series of waiting disasters. Mud slides and so on and so forth.

The relocation has been a very complicated, very frustrating project. There is a lot of bureaucracy. There's a lot of finger pointing. I think that one of the things that can happen now, the money has to be fluid. Tents are going to be needed. There are not enough tents here. They have to be for, you know, figure about eight people. So for these would send them, that's important, to be able to distribute those with some equity to relocation centers.

People have to be relocated. They have to be relocated. They should have been relocated six weeks ago. We've been lucky so far, but the rains are coming.

And one of the things that people can do is write their charity, those that they have donated to, and encourage them to make bold choices, be decisive. We have lost hospitals in the last week because they couldn't get funding. Ready hospitals, an imminent disaster area. So these kinds of things. if they continue, all the great work that the United States itself has put in, as both the citizenry and donations, as well as the United States military, the State Department all the way up to the president. It's been a remarkable effort. It will all be washed away. There's no question about that.

My hat's off to the work that they've done, the Army south now, the Seabees, General King Trembetus (ph).

But we will -- we are going to relocate now or be in a disaster, and so we need to have the assistance packages made very clear so that people know what's waiting for them.

COOPER: And how is it that nearly three months since this earthquake, we are still talking about tents? I mean, we're not talking about new homes. We're talking about tents. How is it possible that there are not enough tents still?

PENN: Well, it's -- that's difficult to say. I don't think the message has been clear enough. Frankly, I don't I've made the message clear enough in the attempts that I've made.

Tents could be sent to the agency that's direct relief on the ground. JPHRO will accept those tents and get those tends distributed. I believe you can send them directly to the shelter cluster, for that matter.

But tents are not going to be the only answer, because we do have a hurricane season coming and, for that matter, a 40-mile-an-hour wind will be difficult. But -- we're also -- we're worried about disease outbreak.

But in the immediate sense, we need a lot of tents. That has to go to transitional housing. More money is needed. More money is needed for all players in terms of the direct disaster relief. Because one has to consider that you're either paralleling or you're working on prevention, which is a very difficult thing to market. And nobody gets the reward improving a negative.

COOPER: Sean, we've got a text question from a viewer, Kim, in Washington. She says, "How is the international community proposing getting the Haitian population back into permanent housing and on what time line?"

PENN: Well, I think the first thing they have to do is have a Haitian population. And that's going to be severely compromised if we don't get the relocations of several of these extremely dangerous areas accomplished. So there is now the beginning of a plan to do that. It's going to happen soon. Relocations are going to begin.

But then the politics continue. And by the politics, I'm not pointing at a government. I'm talking about the systemic problem of bureaucracy. So again, what I would say is that, if you haven't donated, do donate but donate with a letter, pre-forgiving the leadership of any of the large or small donations for making some decisive moves. Without the decisive moves now, this will not be a typical aid situation. It's Chile where it will work, but you won't get the hearts and the lives back. You will get the buildings.

Here that will not work. People have to be able to make on-the- ground, decisive moves, or this is going to be a much longer, much sadder, much more shameful story than it need be.

COOPER: Sean Penn on the ground in Port-au-Prince. Sean, thank you. I appreciate it.

Up next, the latest on the breaking news out of West Virginia. A deadly mine explosion. We'll have details ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The long of worry is just about on everyone's, the firefighters, the EMS, and also the police and miners. We do see some miners outside here just kind of pacing around, helping out with EMS, helping out with the police.


COOPER: That's reporter Sean Kline (ph) from our affiliate, WDVA, on the scene of that deadly mining explosion in West Virginia.

It is a very fluid situation. Right now we can confirm seven fatalities. At least 19 people are still missing and 21 injured. An awful lot of people were involved in this explosion. We continue to gather some new information. Details on the disaster. It happened at the Upper Big Branch mine 30 miles south of Charleston. We don't know what caused the explosion. We can tell you the mine has had a troubling record of late. It's been reported at the top of the hour three people died sine 1998. The mine has had 122 violations since January.

Joe Johns joins us live with more on the safety issues -- Joe.

JOHN JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, by most account, the parent company here, Massey Energy, has been improving its safety record, but this particular mine has repeatedly been cited for mining safety violations, which go back years.

Records compiled by the federal Mine Safety Health Administration show the proposed penalties assessed against the mine reached nearly $1 million last year which would be three times more than any other year on record.

And the number of citations against the mine more than doubled within the last year. Last area the mine also had 50 so-called unwarrantable failure violations, which are among the most serious findings an inspector can issue. Among the citations, concerns about escape ways for miners, safety, air quality, ventilation.

To be clear now, being charged with a violation doesn't mean the company necessarily did anything wrong. And a lot of times, mining companies contest the charges. This company has contested numerous charges. But some of the alleged violations are still more serious than others.


ELLEN SMITH, MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH NEWS (via phone): just what we see this year is the mine has had six ventilation plan violations since January. And the last one was issued on March 30. Ventilation violations can lead to explosions. The ventilation helps control the dust in the mine, as well as water sprays. The ventilation dilutes and carries away the methane. It creates the balance between methane and oxygen.


JOHNS: Now, we have reached out to Massey for comment. We haven't been able to get a hold of anybody yet. They have defended their safety record. In a statement about the accident tonight, Massey said, "Our top priority is the safety of our miners and the well-being of their families."

We've also reached out to the federal Mine Safety Health Administration to talk about these numbers. They have not gotten back to us either -- Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, thanks very much.

Let's bring back our guests. With me again is Mark Radomsky of the miners training program at Penn State University and on the phone is Dennis O'Dell of the United Mine Workers of America. Also, Davitt McAteer, former Clinton administration official overseeing mine safety.

Dennis, at this point, do we know if actual rescue operations are underway? I mean, we have seen rescue personnel going to the scene, but actually mounting an operation sometimes takes a lot of time.

O'DELL: That's true. The fact that they've identified already miners who have died, tells you that the mine rescue team has been underground and recovered those individuals. They've taken some of the individuals to the hospitals. So the mine rescue event is actually ongoing right now. There's no question.

COOPER: Mark Radomsky, though, it's got to be a complex operation, if -- it's still not known the fates of 19 miners. I mean, that could just be a communication issue that they have not told the families, told the media, but that has been unchanged now for several hours.

RADOMSKY: Yes, that's correct. And you can recall again after the Miner Act, one of the provisions was the family liaison. So I don't have any facts as to what's going on. And you seem to indicate that there are some problems there with getting -- or problems with communication between the liaison and the family.

COOPER: Well, that's certainly -- that's just anecdotal based on one or two people who have said, you know, their family member is in there and they don't have any information. We don't know much beyond that.

As you know, cell-phone service at the scene is very difficult, so the few reporters who have been up there, they've had to then come back down to an area where cell-hone service works. So we talked to Carter Johnson a little while ago but again, it's sketchy information.

But clearly -- I hadn't realized, though, that that is actually part of the advances in the wake of the Sago Mine disaster. A liaison with families -- Mark.

RADOMSKY: Yes. That's correct. It was one of the provisions, and I think they followed up with that in implementing that provision.

COOPER: Dennis, in terms of questions you have, what do you -- what are the number one things that need to be answered at this point, beyond you know, what has happened to these men and women?

O'DELL: Well, first and foremost, our concern, my concern, all miners' concerns, is to try to do the rescue. To try to find the miners, locate them, and if there are any miners who have survived this, get them out safely.

And then you get into your investigative mode, and you want to find out what actually caused this explosion. Was it what we thought at Sago? Did they have an explosive range behind it that caused the explosion? Was it an explosion that happened maybe on the long wall, during mining? Those are the kinds of things that you get into at the next mode, to find out what actually caused this so you can then move to try to prevent this from happening again the future.

But right now, you know, as I talked to you before when you were at Sago, every miner's focus, every rescuer's focus, everybody that has anything to do with mine safety in the family, you focus on what can we do? How can get to the miners? How can we make this rescue attempt to try to get any survivors out and get them safely to the surface, as well as protect the main rescue teams as they're performing this function.

COOPER: And Mark, how difficult is it operating a rescue operation inside these mines?

RADOMSKY: Say that again, Anderson?

COOPER: How difficult -- obviously, any kind of explosion, you have those difficulties, but just operating in the mines, it's got to be just an extraordinarily difficult and complex procedure even in the best of circumstances.

RADOMSKY: Absolutely. And I think people just don't have an appreciation for how complex underground coal mining is. There are many systems that you have to keep in balance and there are many, many unknowns.

So we know that everybody involved in government, state level, federal level, the miners, the main foremen, and the trainers and the safety people, they work hard every day, you know, to try to prevent these things. It's a big, big challenge. But, you know, there are a lot of unknowns and things that can't be controlled.


RADOMSKY: So we do have these incidents from time to time.

COOPER: I hate that it's these incidents that make us focus on these issues and also make us realize how important the work that these miners do every single day, the things that they face, the work they're doing, just extraordinarily difficult. And certainly, our thoughts and our prayers are with them tonight.

Mark Radomsky at the miners training program at Penn State University, I appreciate your expertise. And Dennis O'Dell with the United Mine Workers of America. Thanks very much. We're going to have a lot more on tonight's breaking story at the top of the hour.