tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC April 6, 2010 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
>> that's the clear focus. having covered the process in utah, the drilling process is not as easy as it sounds. they put a 12 to 13 hour estimate where they think they can get down several feet. in utah it took several days. the drill bits broke. this is the best scenario to start the ventilation process. the hope is they are able to get to one of the rescue chambers where there's food and air, which is important. they checked one and did not see any people in those. >> reporter: let's back up to what exactly happened yesterday. the cause of the explosion isn't known. many mine experts say it's probably too much methane gas. you just need a spark and you've got an explosion. explain what happened. the whole event happened during a shift change. >> a shift change. one gentleman who worked the day shift left the mine while his son, his nephew and his brother
went in to perish. a tragic day for him. there's a lot of activity. four people missing, three working together, one was working alone. the hope, again, they were able to get to some safety. they were further down the mine as i understand it. there were people coming and going about 3:00 when the shifts changed. some people fortunate to get out with their lives and some unfortunately lost theirs. >> reporter: explain what happened. one of the cars bringing at least nine workers was making its way up. seven of those died. two of them actually lived. parental the explosion went back through the tunnel and caught those other people. >> right. this is a fairly tight tunnel, if you will. the gases once that explosion took place, those gases and compression has to go somewhere. officials are saying if they were not succumbing to the pressure forces itself, the gas, the poisonous toxic gas they are trying to get out of that mine now may have taken the lives of a lot of those other folks who were behind that first group of nine trying to get out of the mine. two, as you mentioned,
miraculously survived and we're still holding out hope for that remaining four. >> reporter: no doubt. we'll get an update from the governor about how the drilling is going. you made an important point that sometimes there will be issues that doesn't go as well as thought. ron mott, thanks for that latest reporting. we appreciate it. one of the things we have focused on here is the families of the victims. there was 62-year-old benny willingham. he was five weeks away from retiring. he had plans for what he wanted to do with his wife after his retirement. matt lauer spoke with his family earlier on "today." >> i was on my way home from my son's ball game, baseball game, and my daughter called me and said that my dad had not called my mom when he came out of the mine. and we met at my mother's, and we just waited and waited.
and actually the coal company still has not called to tell us that my dad is dead. we've heard other ways. >> obviously there's a lot of confusion and frustration among family members right now, because with some of the dead not having been identified yet and others remaining missing, i imagine nobody wants to jump to conclusions and make a mistake. michelle, had your dad talked about the dangers and the risks of the business or is this something that miners tend not to talk about with their family members? >> no, my dad discussed that with us. he's been a miner for 30 years. he loved it. that was his life besides his family was the coal mine. >> and nick, the cruelest of ironies here was that benny was set to retire after more than 30 years in the mines, he was set to retire in just five weeks. had he spoken about what he hoped his life would be like
after working? >> he was really looking forward to it. he and my aunt, my parents, they were going to take a cruise to the virgin islands the end of may. he was very, very excited about that. it's tragic that in the blink of an eye something like this can happen. >> his wife is edith. michelle, that's your mom. how is she holding up? >> she's not. she's just -- she's just waiting to wake up, hoping it was a dream. >> reporter: so it is so heartbreaking for these families. the red cross has come in to help them. sherry mcgraw, you were with those families all last night as they have grieving and learning terrible news. how are they? >> it really was an agonizing
experience for everybody there, probably the most painful thing i've ever had to witness to watch those family members and that many people have to hear terrible news and see their lives broken so quickly. i think they are feeling a little better today. i think some of them have gotten rest and they are starting to come out. >> you and i talked about this one family, three members of one family lost. one of them, the grandma lost her son and her two grandsons. you witnessed the reunion with one of her sons that came out of the mine alive. tell me about that. >> that's right. it was an amazing thing to witness. i saw him running into the mine office where they were all gathered, all the family members. they embraced and cried for a very long time. she said kind of nuz ling his chest, don't ever go back in those mines again. don't ever go back down there. he said, but mama, this is what i do. it makes you wonder if he'll ever go back down in the mines again.
that's the mind-set in west virginia. this is what we do, we mine coal. >> of course his mother grieving the loss of her other son and two grandsons. he was grieving the loss of one of his sons. >> absolutely. it was unimaginable. i spent a lot of time with that family and saw a lot of strength, a lot of faith and a horrendous amount of pain, too. >> sherry mcgraw, you do a wonderful job and you guys at the red cross do a wonderful job. thank you. you were up with the family. they couldn't do it without you. everybody is worried about families. thank you so much. one of the other things we've been talking about is mine safety. there are a lot of questions being raised about safety at this mine. there have been a number of violations. let's bring in kevin strickland, you're with the mine safety administration. i've seen you quoted on the wires. was this a safe mine? >> i think we'll hold off comment until we do the investigation. i realize they had a lot of violations. my guys are trained if they see
a violation that the company hasn't corrected on their own, they are cited. >> i look at 10 violations alone and they had to do with ventilation. that is a red flag? >> that's a red flag the company needs to spend more time on the ventilation issues to make sure they are complying with the plan and correct it before our folks at emsa find it and ask them to correct it. >> let me ask you, too. there were hundreds of violations at the massey minds over the past receiver years. almost $400,000 in fines. is there enough enforcement going on? are government officials leveling these fines and not following up? these are going to be the hard questions asked. >> we realize that. in 2006 after sago occurred, congress changed the mining laws pretty drastically as far as what was required and the amount of az men's. you just mentioned one of the tools we use to try to convince mine owners to comply. if they comply on their own the
assessments wouldn't be brought their way. >> thank you very much. i know you're helping lead up this investigation. we appreciate your time here as well. thank you. >> thank you. >> so there you hear, monica, a sense of what's going on here. a number of federal officials involved in mine safety here, as well as the red cross. a lot gathering around an elementary school, a staging area, just a short distance from the mine. monica. >> all right. norah. thank you very much. we'll be checking back with you in a few minutes. meanwhile when we return, obama administration unveils a major shift in nuclear strategy. a high profile official leaves under rnc scandal. the algae are very beautiful. they come in blue or red, golden, green. algae could be converted into biofuels... that we could someday run our cars on. in using algae to form biofuels,
we're following breaking news for you. you're looking at live pictures off key biscayne, florida. a cargo boat fully engulfed. they are not sure how the fire started but there were two people on board this boat. they did manage to jump to safety. according to reports they were not injured and they were picked up fortunately very quickly by a passing boat. looking at live pictures off key biscayne in florida. this boat completely engulfed in flames. you can see the dark smoke coming off of it. it does appear to be sinking in the back there. the two on board managed to jump off quickly. we don't know they made it to shore but made it to a passing boat. we're told they are doing all right. we'll watch these pictures and bring you an update coming in. we'll continue to have more on
the devastating mine explosion in west virginia in just a moment. first there are some other stories making headlines we want to update you on. president obama meeting with african-american religious leaders. this is the second meeting at the white house in the past three months. they are going to be discussing the needs of the black community. the recession has taken a disproportionately high toll on minority communities. blacks have nearly double the unemployment rate of whites. 49 dead and as many as 130 more are injured following a series of coordinated blasts in baghdad this morning. five explosions ripped through apartment buildings across the city while another struck a market. iraqi officials are blaming al qaeda in iraq insurgents for the violence that comes in the midst of an unresolved election. three teenagers arraigned after fbii prince committed suicide after months of harassment at south hadley high school. the teens won't be in court and
their attorneys will enter their pleas. an upheaval to tell you about, rnc cheech of staff resigned after the spending scandal involving a risque nightclub trip. accusations of lavish spending and disarray. andy barr joins us. andy, did he go willingly or was he pushed? >> reporter: we're hearing he was not pushed. he left at the same time curt anderson, a consultant close with steele and mckay. we were able to confirm that last night. a lot of folks on their way out the door at the rnc. >> curt anderson, one of steele's top advisers stepping away from his role and a couple of other advisers as wii. what is this going to mean to rnc and michael steele personally. >> it's unclear what it means now. one thing they are trying to do is restructure the way they approve expenses. they brought in rnc council to
do that. they are restructuring the way the shop works now. >> michael steele continues to say in interviews, hey, i'm not going anywhere. >> reporter: that's right, he's not. we haven't heard from committee members there's any push to have him out. we haven't heard from the rnc that he's leaving. expect michael steele to serve out the rest of his term ending in january. >> yet, in spite of the fact he's been saying that we do still keep seeing reports where the question is raised and he is -- does continue to be asked. so is this more the media bringing this up? is he really safe? i believe it was congressman waters earlier this week on "morning joe" saying she thought he should be out. >> reporter: congressman doesn't have a vote in what the rnc does. i think he's safe. the rnc is saying he's safe. the committee members, we talk to these guys. they say he's safe. unless they want to push him out, he's not going anywhere. >> congressman woods was adamant about her thought at the time but we'll see if she rousts any other opinion around here.
andy barr with "politico," thank you. >> thank you. a sweeping overhaul of the nuclear strategy less than an hour from now. a preview of changes coming up. website releases controversial video of american helicopter shooting and killing two journalists in baghdad. live pictures from naoma, west virginia, where governor joe manchin will speak a few minutes from now. we'll be talking about the deadly mine explosion that killed 25 people. four remain missing. we'll bring that to you live when it happens. if perfection is what you pursue, this just might change your course. meet the new class of world class. the twenty-ten lacrosse, from buick. may the best car win.
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president obama is proposing dramatic changes to the nuclear strategy. under the policy the u.s. would not use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear countries. there are some important compensations including america's nuclear power as a deterrent against nations like iran and korea. richard wolffe, msnbc's political analyst, and he joins us now. expectations were high. this the president who won the peace prize. he did break with the administration in some
instances. this is broadly described as the president taking the middle road. >> yeah. that's an interesting way to put it. remember, he won the peace prize precisely because of his commitment for vision, long-term vision for a nuclear-free world. yet you see him taking the middle ground here. he's actually doing something different in addition to annoying hawks and doves, he's trying to reinforce another piece of paper, nuclear proliferation treaty, designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons across the world. that's different. that's trying to use defense policy for counter proliferation. sure people on left and right broadly, doves and hawks are not happy with stuff he's doing in the middle here. >> there are reports some democrats wanted him to declare the u.s. would not use nuclear weapons first. >> right. >> he didn't want to go that far, though. >> no, he didn't.
he didn't say as well nuclear weapons would only be used as a deterrent. he said fundamental purpose would be a deterrent. there's playing around with words. in all cases the united states reserves the right to use nukes whenever it wants. there is a goal here to try and nudge people back into this treaty that frayed apart. it's frayed because of iran and north korea pushing the boundaries and going beyond them. >> you mentioned the nonproliferation treaties. when we talk bo them they become exceptions. >> it's part and parcel, the administration is trying to get new sanctions, tough sanctions denies iran in particular. north korea declared a nuclear power. in some ways, the barn door, too late to shut them. with iran and the concerns people have about it, here is another sort of tool being used to nudge iran. but it does come back to this very controversial sensitive area. how does america look to use its
nuclear weapons. that's always going to get people worked up. >> finally we know the president is going to be meeting with the russian president medvedev to sign a new version of the start treaty. what does this signify in terms of u.s. relations going forward. >> there has been distrust through the negotiation on the start treaty. there was a lot of testing, russians trying to see how tough this guy is. that is a lead up to the treaty signing in prague, a lead up to the security conference in d.c., lots of heads of state coming in. this is the president trying to get some momentum here and put the flesh on the bones for this thing that he won the nobel prize for. >> richard wochl, great to have your insight as always. thank you. >> thanks, monica. let's head back to norah o'donnell. she's at the site of the coal mining incident in west virginia. norah. >> reporter: we're going to hear from the governor of this state joe manchin shortly. he's just been with the families of those 25 miners who were
killed. he's been at the mine site to try to find how the drilling is going where they try to rescue the four trapped miners. was this mine safe? was it able to operate despite questions about its safety. all that coming up. [ crowd cheering ] [ male announcer ] competition... it pushes us to work harder. to be better. to win. but sometimes even rivals realize they share a common goal. america's beverage companies have removed full-calorie soft drinks from schools,
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i would ask for the faithful who gathered this morning pray for the safe return of the missing, the men and women who put their lives on the line to save them and the souls of those who have been lost in this tragic accident, may they rest in peace and may their families find comfort in the hard days ahead. >> that was president obama earlier today at the easter prayer breakfast. we're looking at now live pictures here at the elementary school. we're expecting to hear live from the governor of west virginia, joe manchin, who will give us an update on the very
latest to drill down some 1100 feet to release some of those methane gases to rescue workers can get back inside the mine to try and rescue those four missing miners. now 25 dead, of course, in what is now the deadliest mine accident in more than two decades. a lot of people raising questions about the safety of the mines and massey energy, which owns the mind. let's bring in hampton pearson. we've been talking about this all morning long. was this mine safe? >> reporter: that's one of the things the safety experts will be analyzing. specifically last year federal inspectors found more than 450 violations and fined massey in excess of $382,000 related to problems involving ventilation and its equipment plant at the upper big branch mine where this
latest tragedy has, in fact, occurred. it's also the second time in four years coal miners have died at a massey-owned west virginia facility. in '96, the deaths of two miners triggered a record $1.5 million fine from federal mine safety administration experts. in the last years, massey, the largest coal miner in central appalachia has been cited for advises. however they say the safety record has been stronger than the industry average. but again, safety issues with massey, procedures related to this tragedy and its overall operations are definitely going to come to the fore, but right now where you are and what's going on, the rescue attempt and really efforts to get to a cause for this specific tragedy are really what's most important. >> hampton, you talk about massey energy, of course, a lot of questions about the ceo of that company, don blankenship.
let me ask you about the profits that massey energy makes? is it considered one of the most profitable coal companies? >> absolutely. they are the top, i believe fifth largest coal producer nationwide. they are far and away one of the most profitable. i don't know the most recent statements from the last year but definitely at the top of the heap on that score. don blankenship, very controversial figure. a few years ago he personally put up about $3 million to get a state supreme court justice elected and get someone who had ruled someone against the company off that body. that case ended up in front of the u.s. supreme court and prompted a landmark ruling with the justices saying there have to be new standards when judges should step aside in lawsuits like that. but when the case actually got back to the west virginia court, massey actually prevailed and 50 million judgment against the company was actually reversed.
>> and now apparently that state supreme court justice is now running against congressman rayhill who represents this very district. so the congressman is not very friendly with the ceo of massey energy. it's an interesting subplot in this whole story. hampton pearson as always, good to talk to you. >> reporter: good to talk to you, norah. >> for more on this let's bring in jeff goodel. do you believe the mine was safe? >> it's impossible to know until we have a full investigation of what's going on. i've been to this region, know this region pretty well. i've never been in this mine. i was recently on the phone with people who live around there. it's well-known to be a gassy mine. there was a problem with high levels of methane. in a mine like that, if you
don't follow all the safety precautions very precisely, you're going to have situations like this. >> in fact, jeff, everyone i've been reading that in fact mining has gotten safer over the last couple of years. a low number of fatalities. this now with this one event has killed 25 people. it's the worst in over two decades. do you think there's going to be a lot of questions about the fact this was, as you said, a gassy mine and whether they were following all the procedures that congress has now mandated since the sago disaster? >> yeah. there's going to be a lot of questions raised after this. one thing i want to say, it's true that mining fatalities have declined, but one of the reasons why they have declined is because a lot of mining has moved to large scale surface mining, mountain top removal mining which has its own problem. these underground mines like the one where this tragedy happened are continually dangerous. as they get deeper and deeper
into the mountains, as the coal gets thinner and thinner, you're seeing a lot of accidents and tragedies, similar kinds of operations in a similar region. the simple fact is coal is declining in west virginia. the stuff they are going after now is deeper and more difficult to get at. >> that's a really interesting point, jeff. they do believe these four missing miners are perhaps 1100 feet deep. they say it's going to take them at least 12 hours to get that core drill essentially going through different layers, through 1100 feet just so they can ventilate that methane gas before they can get additional rescue workers in there. >> right. it's an extraordinarily dangerous situation. the last thing they want is to go back down in there and have another explosion. so they really have to ventilate this thing out. i think another point that's going to be brought up during the investigation in this, into
the aftermath is questions about massey energy's record, about don blankenship, the ceo of the company, who is quite a notorious figure in this region of west virginia. he's kind of a throw-back to old-fashioned coal barons of the 19th century. >> tell me why. everyone since i've been here has been raising questions about the ceo. tell me about him. >> well, he's really a larger than life character, a throw-back to old-fashioned coal barons who believes west virginia's prosperity is directly linked to mining of coal and nothing should basically get in the way of that. he was notorious in the busting up of the unions in the '70s and '80s in the west virginia coal fields. he is the prime target of many of the mountain top removal actions. massey runs many of the largest mountain top removal mines, that is the big mines that basically disembowel mountains and has been the subject of a lot of
controversy and action in the last few years. he's sort of shameless about it. he's the last of the old-fashioned characters who really doesn't see any future for west virginia beyond coal. >> all right, jeff goodell, great to talk to you. brilliant reporting. this really is a fascinating story about not only this company but the lives of people who live here and center this whole community. we're in the heart of west virginia, we don't even have cell service here of we're out in the middle of nowhere. many people here, this is their life mining. that's why an accident like this definite states this entire community. i'm going to send it back now to monica in new york. monica. >> norah, i wanted to ask you if you could give viewers a behind the scenes taste. you talk about this being a remote area, the heart of mining country. i don't know if you're camera is
able to pull back and show us. these events, suddenly out of nowhere this remote spot and suddenly a massive media area as everyone tries to cover this tragic story. >> reporter: let me ask ken to show you. i'll back up. this is another mine behind us, not the mine where the accident took place. you can see the water runoff. go this way, ken, i'll show you monica, there are just so many cameras lined here from all of the networks and cars. this poor elementary school is now covered with satellite trucks and all kinds of different places from all over this country as everybody is reporting. we're staged right over there. there's a very small elementary school, probably about six or seven classrooms maybe in this small elementary school. probably one of the smallest schools i've ever seen. it's the staging area. that's where we're going to see the governor manchin appear. that's where all the federal officials have been doing their briefings and where he's going
to appear. governor manchin supposed to brief at 11:30. let me tell you, monica. sometimes the clock slides, the time slides because he has been actually at the mine site, which is just down the road that way. he's been where they are trying to do that core drilling. he's been spending time with the families. he's actually been the one who called some family members to tell them they have lost loved ones. monica. >> we are hearing from some of the family members as you know, you saw reports earlier this morning, family members saying they haven't heard directly from massey. they have simply seen lists or heard from media reports, actual names on some of the people we know have perished. i know you spoke with the governor earlier this morning and obviously a tough day for him as he tries to lead his state through this tragedy. >> reporter: yeah. my sense is this is going to be -- this is such a tragic story. it's also going to be about the families. there's that family where three family members were killed. the grandmother who lost one son
and two grandsons in this mine accident. i met a woman who i don't know how old she was, but she looked about 20 years old. she was carrying around a picture of her fiance. they were going to get married in a couple of weeks. he died in the accident. then of course you mentioned the family, the 62-year-old who mined for 30 years. he was going to retire in five weeks. he was planning on going on a cruise and take his wife to the virgin islands. these are heartbreaking stories about these people and certainly their lost loved ones. i think the second part of this story is going to be about mining and mine safety. so just talking with jeff goodell about the ceo of the company don blankenship, a larger than life figure. he's very involved in politics, funding a lot of different political efforts. i think there's going to be questions about him and certainly the safety of the mine as there are already questions now about multiple violations at that mine. >> yeah, absolutely. i think you hit the nail on the
head. all right. meanwhile, as you mentioned, norah, we are awaiting governor joe manchin. he was set to speak ten minutes ago. he should be arriving at the podium. as we said situations like this are fluid. we know, as he told norah, he was going to be spending time with family members and also up at the mine where they try to drill down 1100 feet as they try to get ventilation to one of those areas where they believe those four remaining miners are so they can hopefully perform some rescue. they don't know the status of those miners. we are awaiting a briefing by the governor, governor manchin. when that happens we'll bring that to you. meantime other news, pentagon scrambling to explain video of american helicopters shooting down civilians in iraq. we'll hear from the hero father who jumped into the east river to rescue his two-year-old daughter. he saved her from drowning. unbelievable pictures. wait until you hear what the father had to say today.
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the u.s. military is trying to explain a newly leaked video that shows apache helicopters killing civilians during a 2007 raid in iraq. this classified video released by the website wikileaks.org shows a group of men on the street in baghdad. they are mostly unarmed. but from the chatter heard on the tape, it appears the airmen believe they came across insurgents with rocket-propelled grenade launcher. they open fire on the men. one of the victims was a photographer for reuters. jim miklaszewski is at the pentagon. jim, there's reports it was leaked by a military whistleblower. what is the military response today? >> reporter: it's important to understand this occurred at the height of the iraqi surge a few years ago in a very hot zone of the capital called new baghdad in which american troops for days were coming under
continuous sporadic heavy gunfire, small arms and rpgs. these two apache helicopters were dispatched to provide air cover for those american troops on the ground. the gun camera video clearly shows about seven or eight men. now, two of them appear, at least to the helicopter crew, appear to be armed with an ak-47 and an rpg. but that group also includes a photographer and driver for the reuters news service. the crew asks for and receives permission to open fire with their 30 millimeter cannons, which they do killing seven and wounding one. a van arrives. unarmed men come out to assist the men. the crew opens fire killing more, including more men on the ground, including the photographer and driver for reuters. ground troops arrived on the scene and made a tragic
discovery. two children inside the van who were wounded. they were snatched up in the arms of soldiers and rushed off for medical treatment. now, the big question is when you look at this video, it's clear that most of the men, if not all, appear to be unarmed actually. there was an investigation at the time. given the circumstances, the hot combat zone and the constant attacks against american forces, the ruling at the time was that the apache helicopter crews acted appropriately within the rules of engagement. it appears this long afterwards with the benefit of hindsight, this is just another ugly episode of the war. >> you said this investigation did come to conclusion. for all intents and purposes for now, as far as the military is concerned, is this a closed case as far as the military is concerned. we know the family is upset and they are raising this issue?
is it closed as far as the military is concerned? >> reporter: absolutely. what is conclusive is exactly who were these men and what were they doing at the time. you know, the u.s. military officials we talked to said there's no evidence to indicate they were not involved somehow with insurgents. but apparently there's no strong evidence to either indicate that they were, although the reports indicate there were some weapons recovered at the scene at the time. monica. >> all right. thanks for putting it in context as always. appreciate it. >> okay. investigators from the national transportation safety board said underinflated tires led to a leer jet crashing on a south carolina runway in september of 2008. you remember this crash. four people were killed including band member travis barker and d.j. am. d.j. am later died in a drug
overdose in 2009. the thrusters were not in the right position. the final report is expected later today. toyota facing a record fine of $16 million for not telling u.s. officials quickly enough about those safety problems with sticky gas pedals. the transportation department said toyota hid a dangerous defect for months from u.s. officials. under federal law automakers must notify nhtsa in determining a safety defect exists. the fine is the maximum allowed by law and toyota could face additional fines. a judge appointed to hear the case of michael jackson's doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter. michael jackson's mother, father and three sisters were in court as conrad murray's case was assigned. the next court date has been set for june 14th. an update on that dramatic rescue of the 2-year-old toddler
who fell into new york city's east river this weekend. her father, david anderson, he jumped into the river to save his daughter bridget. by the time he dove in, there was another good samaritan, a frenchman in the water. david anderson spoke exclusively to matt lauer on the "today" show and described the moment. >> we didn't have a conversation in the water. >> right. >> but i looked over and was merely going over. there he was. he had her up, had her head up. she was crying. i went right in. he handed her to me. luckily there was some wire hanging down the pier. we were able to grab onto it and hold her. >> there you can see beautiful bridget. she is just fine today. and when you look back at that shot, i don't know if we can pull it up again, the good samaritan is highlighted. figur. he immediately got into a cab after the rescue.
the toddler's mother says she'd like to meet him. she wants to offer him her best wishes, thank him. duke is celebrating a national championship today. the blue devils beat butler when butler's final three-point attempt bounced off the rim. it is duke's fourth men's championship. stanford faces uconn tonight for the women's title. let's head back to norah o'donnell at the site of the coal mine explosion in west virginia. >> we are waiting a live press conference from the governor of west virginia, joe manchin, who is going to update us on the latest efforts to do that core drilling, 1100 feet, so they can ventilate that methane gas and get the rescuers back inside the mine and rescue those four missing miners. 25 dead in what is now being called the deadliest accident in over two decades.
we continue to foe fo low the breaking news out of west virginia. four miners remain missing, a massive rescue effort underway right now. we're still waiting for governor manchin. we're expecting him any moment. >> absolutely. it has been a busy day for the governor. he was on vacation in florida. flew in at about 2:00 a.m. last night and went straight to the mine. the news was breaking, but the numbers have gone up. now, 25 dead and four still missing. we just got a statement, too, from senator jay rockefeller, who represents the state of west virginia, who says the devastation is unimaginable and our number one priority the bringing those missing miners to
safety. he's also going to demand answers. when i spoke with governor manchin earlier, he, too, wanted answers about these potential safety violations and he also said sort of issued this call and said if anybody sees anything something unsafe out there, they should call me and let me know. i said, hey, shouldn't it be incumbent on anyone who runs the mine, he said we can protect any whistleblowers, they can call me. he wants any miners who feel unsafe to let him know, but there's going to be a lot of questions raised about this mine, why there had been some ten safety violations that had to do with ventilation. >> we'll be checking back with you in a few minutes. i'm monica novotny in new york. contessa brewer picks up our coverage. >> we're keeping an eye on a massachusetts courtroom where
the bullies who allegedly sent a girl to suicide, all charged. plus, shocking new video from iraq. it looks like a u.s. strike some three years ago on civilians. it was leaked yesterday. what does it say about the way our military operates in war zones overseas? we'll be right back. [ crowd cheering ] [ male announcer ] competition... it pushes us to work harder. to be better. to win. but sometimes even rivals realize they share a common goal. america's beverage companies have removed full-calorie soft drinks from schools, reducing beverage calories by 88%. together with schools, we're helping kids make more balanced choices every day. ♪
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we have breaking news this hour from the scene of the mine tragedy in west virginia. i'm contessa brewer. 25 souls lost, four more still under ground and a community heartbroken. we're waiting for governor joe manchin to give us the latest on what he knows about this tragedy. there are rescuers, support groups and camera crews scattered across the region. the governor has been at the scene since yesterday and he says it could take hours to reach those still missing. >> this is a tough time.
i think the families will talk about it, but there's a shred of hope. hope for a miracle. >> it's the worst mining disaster since 1984. the search has been suspended because of high levels of toxic gas inside the mine. they're hoping to resume the search today. the upper branch mine, about 30 miles south of charleston, west virginia. norah, what are you learning? >> and good day to you, contessa. we are waiting for the latest update from the governor of the state who was scheduled to brief about half an hour ago. he's likely running a little late. when i spoke with him today, he said he was going to visit with the families and pay a visit to the mine site where they're trying to drill the core down to ventilate some of that methane gas that is so dangerous that the rescuers cannot get in
there. they're talking about 40 rescuers were on the scene. they said, stop is rescue, it is way too dangerous, even though four people are still trapped. so they are trying to ventilate that gas and it could take some 12 hours to get that far down, so until then, they are just drilling and we are at a standstill. the families are at the mine, waiting to find out about their loved ones. >> thank you for that. let's go to robert gates, the defense secretary speaking. he's got a lot to react to today. both the nuclear change from the president and leaked video from iraq. >> the review rightly places the prevention of terrorism and proliferation at the top of the u.s. nuclear policy agenda. given iran's ongoing nuclear efforts and north korea's proliferation, this focus is appropriate and e