One miner dies and another is missing in pit collapse

ONE miner was killed and another was missing last night after a roof collapse in a Kentucky coalmine.

Rescuers were searching for the missing man and mine operators said they hoped he would be found alive.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing said the mine had a history of safety breaches.

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US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere said rescue crews entered the Webster County Coal Dotiki Mine early yesterday, and travelled around four miles to the area where miners were believed to have been trapped. Their efforts to stabilise the roof and haul away rock were temporarily halted just before 9am (GMT) because of "adverse roof conditions."

Ms Louviere said the mine had a workforce of 367 who worked in three shifts.

Records show inspectors have issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment because of safety violations since January last year. Those records also show an additional 44 citations for safety violations that did not result in closure orders.

The missing miners were operating a continuous miner, that digs coal for transport to the surface, said Ms Gardenhire. The rescue teams from the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing and the US Mine Safety and Health Administration "were in the area where the miners are believed to be" by noon yesterday, she added.

Tim Miller of the United Mine Workers Union said at least two others escaped after the rock fall in the mine near Providence, 150 miles west of Louisville.

Kentucky was the state with the highest number of mine deaths in the United States in 2009 – seven, from a total of 34. Twenty-nine miners died in another disaster in West Virginia earlier earlier this month.