Bodies Of 2 Maryland Miners Found In Collapse

Friday, April 20th 2007, 10:56 am

By: News On 6

BARTON, Md. (AP) _ Workers on Friday found the bodies of two miners trapped when a wall section collapsed in an open-pit coal mine in western Maryland, a federal mine official said.

One body was found in a backhoe the man had been operating Tuesday when the two were buried beneath at least 45 feet of debris, said Bob Cornett, acting regional director for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. The second body was found inside a bulldozer a few hours later, he said.

Both pieces of equipment were spotted Thursday night after workers removed thousands of tons of rock and dirt. The vehicles were found side by side, with extensive damage to both.

The MSHA has not identified the miners.

On Friday, Cornett said recovery workers did not yet know which miner had been found. The amount of debris, the risk of further collapse and the damage to the heavy machinery prevented workers from immediately removing the body, he said.

``There is no way anybody could get close or have any kind of identification,'' Cornett said.

Relatives of both men have been informed, he said.

Crews had been meticulously removing debris near the vehicles in the frantic search for the missing men at the Tri-Star Mining Inc. site near Barton, about 150 miles west of Baltimore.

Trucks hauled about 2,500 tons of debris each hour, with some lengthy delays, from the pile to try to reach them.

The cause of the collapse was under investigation. Cornett said heavy rain and the ground freezing and thawing could be a factor.

The mine, about 150 miles west of Baltimore, has had no fatal injuries since at least 1995 and was not cited for violations in its most recent inspection, which began March 5, according to MSHA. The mine employed 51 people at the end of 2006 and produced nearly 653,000 tons of coal last year.

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