Tests on U.S. mine survivor show brain activity

The sole survivor of a mine explosion remained in a partial coma but showed signs of brain activity, doctors said Tuesday. Mourners prepared to bury to the last two victims. The funeral for 59-year-old Fred Ware was scheduled for the Sago Baptist Church in Tallmansville, followed by services for Terry Helms, 50, in Masontown. Funerals for the other 10 men killed were held Sunday and Monday.

There was no significant change Tuesday morning in the condition of Randal McCloy Jr., 26. He remained in critical condition at West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. McCloy has yet to fully awaken from a medically induced coma, but doctors did not express concern. Dr. Julian Bailes, a neurosurgeon, said it could be a lengthy process, which is likely to be gradual.

"I think we have no clear clue of the extent of his injury or the time of his recovery," Bailes said. But Bailes said doctors had performed tests of McCloy's brain activity, which showed a lot of activity on both sides of his brain. "It is probably too early for us to tell what that means, but it is very important to us that he has a lot of brain activity," Bailes said.

On Monday, authorities announced investigations were beginning into both the explosion at the Sago Mine and overall national mining safety. Among the issues to be probed will be the miscommunication that led to the mistaken belief that 12 of the 13 miners had been rescued alive the day after the explosion trapped them Jan. 2. "I am asking for that because I have witnessed firsthand the unbelievable human suffering that comes from miscommunication," Governor Joe Manchin said Monday.

Federal and state mine safety officials said they would hold joint public hearings into the disaster. Meanwhile, Senator Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, said federal mine safety officials would be called to testify before a Senate subcommittee that would hold hearings beginning Jan. 19. The explosion was the worst coal-mining accident in West Virginia since 1968, when 78 miners were killed in a mine explosion in Farmington, reports the AP. N.U.

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