WASHINGTON – President Bush said Tuesday the nation was praying for 13 men trapped in a West Virginia coal mine and offered federal help to bring them out, "hopefully in good condition."
"May God bless those who are trapped below the earth," Bush said from the White House as rescue crews scrambled to reach the miners 31 hours after they were trapped underground.
The miners were trapped early Monday 260 feet below the surface of the Sago Mine, located about 100 miles northeast of Charleston.
The president, speaking during a meeting with U.S. attorneys to seek renewal of the terror-fighting Patriot Act, said he called West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin to offer support.
"I told him that Americans all across our country were praying for the miners who are trapped in the mine there in West Virginia," Bush said. "I told him that I appreciated the great outpouring of compassion from the West Virginia citizens toward those worried family members. I also assured him that the federal government will help the folks in West Virginia any way we can to bring those miners out of that mine, hopefully in good condition."
The Mine Safety and Health Administration had rescue and safety specialists on the scene, set up a mobile command center and brought in a rescue robot able to explore areas of the mine that wouldn't be safe for human rescuers. Federal officials also monitored gas samples.
Bush was being regularly briefed on the situation, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said earlier Tuesday.