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13 miners trapped in a mine in West Virginia. Television cameras join anxious family members in the vigil. After nearly two days, news comes that 12 are alive. But the good news is wrong, and it is hours before the correct information reaches the families and the world -- there is only one survivor. The tragedy of the Sago mine disaster garnered the intense attention of the media in early January 2006, but few reporters dug deeper to find out if the deaths of coal miners could have been prevented. Until reporter Ken Ward Jr. and The Charleston Gazette
did just that, by pouring over the accident reports involving hundreds of miners. Ward found that most miners do not die in disasters, in the glare of the media spotlight, but one by one, in mining accidents that could have been avoided if mine operators had followed existing regulations and safety rules. "They don't have to die," Ward concluded. "That's what the reports show. That's what the record shows."