Friends, Family, Co-Workers Gather to Pray for Trapped Coal Miners

As cautious but diligent rescue efforts continued Tuesday morning for 13 coal miners in West Virginia trapped due to an underground explosion, hundreds gathered at a nearby Baptist church to pray for relief and successful outcome.

Rescuers have been digging in Tallmansville, about 100 miles northeast of Charleston, to reach the workers, who are believed to be nearly 260 below the mine’s surface. They have determined through tests that toxic air levels below are high but are still in rescue-mode, hoping that the miners found a patch of fresh air.

An official with Coal Group Inc., which owns the mine, said the workers were working quickly but cautiously.

Digging is “a very dangerous process,” said CEO Ben Hatfield, according to the Associated Press. However, he held out hope.

When asked if he had anything to viewers watching the efforts, Hatfield said, “Pray.”

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin meanwhile gathered at a nearby church with relatives and co-workers gathered to encourage them.

“We believe in miracles in West Virginia,” he said. “I haven’t given up hope.”

Hundreds of friends, relatives and co-workers have been gathering across the railroad tracks from the mine at the fellowship hall of nearby Sago Baptist Church to pray and wait for word of the rescue. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Wease Day, led friends and family in prayer.

John Casto, who knows three men in the mine, stood outside the Baptist church he helped build and said, "Lord's got it under control. God has worked many miracles. Nobody has given up hope yet. We are still praying,” he said.

Daniel Meredith, son-in-law of trapped miner Alby Martin Bennet described him as prayerful.

“Every day he would come home and pray for who was going in,” said Meredith. “Right now he is probably in there witnessing to people. He would be organizing and praying,” Merideth told AP.

Meredith says Bennett had planned to retire this year.

Many of the families sat in circles of folding chairs with blankets donated by the Red Cross. State troopers were trying to reassure those gathered by dispelling rumors about the trapped workers.

Samantha Lewis, whose husband David was trapped, said her husband worked in mines to help take care of their children at night while she studied for her master’s degree.