Two miners killed after western Ky. mine collapse


HOPKINS CO., KY (WFIE/AP) - A rescue team has found a second Kentucky miner dead after a roof collapse at an underground coal mine with a long history of safety problems.

Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing spokesman Dick Brown said the two miners were found dead Thursday after the accident at the Dotiki Mine in western Kentucky.

Rescue workers earlier found the body of one miner trapped under rock. They had to retreat for a time when the roof become unstable, sending down a shower of rocks.

Gov. Steve Beshear identified the miners as 27-year-old Justin Travis of Dixon and 28-year-old Michael Carter of Hanson.

State and federal records show more than 40 closure orders over safety violations since January 2009. Officials with mine operator Alliance Coal Co. didn't return calls seeking comment.

According to a statement released by the mine Thursday morning, the accident happened around 10:00 Wednesday night.

Mine officials say Travis and Carter were trapped when a piece of the mine's roof fell unexpectedly.

"They were going where no man has ever been, and they were cutting entries and what we call cross cuts," U.S. Mine Safety Administrator Carl Boone said.

Mine officials confirmed at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday that one miner had been located but was still trapped under fallen rock and was unresponsive.

The other miner was still missing.

"At one point we got pretty close to the location of the accident," Gov. Beshear said. "We were able to view one person."

Officials say rescue crews had to retreat because more rocks from the unstable roof started to fall.

Rescue crews were unable to identify which of the two miners they saw.

"We will continue to work toward digging our way in and hopefully make this a rescue operation rather than a recovery operation," Webster Co. Coal VP Charlie Wesley said.

The cause of this roof collapse is not known.

The mine, which is owned by Alliance Coal, covers more than 100 acres and employs 367 people.

Dotiki is operated by Webster County Coal, and has been owned by Alliance Resource Partners since 1971.

There was a fatal underground accident here in 1988. One miner was killed when two shuttle cars collided.

The Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing has issued 31 closure orders since January of last year.

Those orders require the shutdown of a section of the mine, or a shutdown of a piece of equipment because of safety hazards.

State inspectors have also issued forty four citations for non compliance with safety laws.

According to an article published in Business Week earlier this month, the Dotiki mine has accumulated 321 significant and substantial violations.

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