Two killed in open-cast accident

TWO men were killed yesterday in an industrial accident at an open-cast mine.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene of the incident, which took place shortly before 1pm at the Pennyvenie open-cast site near Dalmellington, East Ayrshire.

Although full details have still to emerge, it is believed the double tragedy happened after a dump truck ran over a Land Rover-type vehicle containing the two men.

It is the second fatal accident at the site in recent years, following the death of a 35-year-old worker crushed by a lorry there in 2000.

Scottish Coal, which runs the site, said last night that a full investigation had been launched.

Andrew Foster, the company's managing director, said: "Firstly, on behalf of all at Scottish Coal, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and work colleagues of the two men who tragically lost their lives.

"Immediately following the accident, the company contacted the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive. A full investigation of the incident has been launched. The site has been closed and will remain so until the investigation is complete."

Last night it was reported the dump truck weighed as much as 100 tons. Mr Foster said it would be inappropriate to comment on specific details during the investigation. He added: "The company remains committed to ensuring its procedures are as safe as possible to minimise the risk of workplace accidents."

Cathy Jamieson, the justice minister and MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, said: "My immediate thoughts are with the families of the two men and with the other workers, who I'm sure are going to be absolutely devastated."

Nicky Wilson, the president of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: "It's a terrible tragedy and until investigators find out how it happened, all our thoughts are with these men's families."

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: "We dispatched two land ambulances and one air ambulance helicopter, but the two persons died at the scene due to the nature and extent of their injuries. We are led to believe that the dump truck ran over a Land Rover-type vehicle containing the two persons who died."

The incident highlights the dangers inherent in the fast-growing open-cast mining industry. In June 2000, Neil Hodge was crushed when a 35-tonne truck that was shifting earth fell on him at the same mine.

And in February 1998, William Hiddleston died when his lorry was hit by a 20-tonne truck at the Dalquhandy open-cast mine in Coalburn, Lanarkshire.

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said a full report on the latest accident would be sent to the procurator-fiscal.

• IN June 2000, Neil Hodge from Ochiltree, was crushed to death when a 35-tonne truck that was shifting earth fell on him at the same mine.

The 30-year-old was on the back of the lorry when its trailer which had been hydraulically raised suddenly fell on top of him without warning, killing him instantly.

In January 2000 David Jones, 57, of Kidwelly, in Wales, died after he was struck by a reversing loading shovel vehicle at an open cast mine, operated by Miller Mining, near Skares, Ayrshire. He was clearing soil from the site. The skip body on the six-wheeled Volvo truck was crammed full and weighed several tons when it trapped him. He died at the scene.

In February 1998, mineworker, William Hiddleston, died when his lorry was hit by a 20-tonne dumper truck driven by another employee, at the Dalquhandy opencast Mine in Coalburn, Lanarkshire.

The impact forced the lorry's cabin onto its side injuring another 16 open-cast mine workers.