Two miners were trapped and died in a coal mine near Wharton, W.Va., late Monday, according to state police and federal mine safety officials.
Amy Louviere of the Mining Safety and Health Administration told the Associated Press in an e-mail Tuesday morning that a ground failure occurred at the mine around 8:30 p.m. Monday. She said the miners' bodies have been recovered, and personnel from the agency were on the site.
The accident occurred at the Brody Mine #1 in Boone County, in the southwest part of the state. It is owned by St. Louis-based Patriot Coal.
SAFETY REPORT: WMYT-TV posts federal safety report on the Brody mine
In October, the MSHA designated the mine as a pattern violator, meaning it had repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations in the previous year.
The MSHA report cited the mine for such alleged violations as methane hazards, emergency preparedness/escapeway hazard and roof hazards.
The letter accompanying the citation said a "Pattern of Violations" designation was based on a determination of "repeated violations of mandatory health or safety standards at the mine that could significantly and substantially contribute to the cause and effect of safety or health hazards ..."
Patriot said in a statement at the time that it believed the mine didn't qualify for the status and that it intended to contest it.
One of the victims was identified by families as Eric Legg, according to WBOY, which first reported the fatalities on Twitter.
The MSHA said in a report last week that eight miners had died in accidents in the U.S. mining industry in the first quarter of 2014 and noted a "spike" in deaths for the second quarterl. It said three people died in coal mining accidents and five in metal and nonmetal mining accidents from January to April.
The agency has recorded 19 mining fatalities since October, according to Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health.
"Mine operators need to reevaluate the quality of the training miners are receiving and their examinations of miners' workplaces because they appear to be lacking," Main said in issuing the summary last week. "MSHA will be paying close attention to these deficiencies, as well as the types of hazards and conditions that have led to these deaths, during mine inspections."
Contributing: Wendy Koch and the Associated Press
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