1 worker dead, another trapped after Kentucky coal plant building being demolished collapses

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INEZ, Ky. (AP) — One man has died after he and a coworker were trapped beneath a collapsed 11-story building being demolished at an abandoned eastern Kentucky mine’s coal preparation plant, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday.

WATCH: Government eyes more coal regulations as black lung cases sharply rise among miners

The building at Martin Mine Prep Plant in Martin County collapsed around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, trapping the men working there beneath multiple floors of concrete and steel. Teams were working to rescue them, Kentucky Emergency Management said in a news release on Wednesday. State emergency management officials were at the scene working with several partner agencies including urban search and rescue and technical rescue teams.

Officials didn’t release details about the extent of the other man’s injuries.

In a social media post Wednesday morning, Beshear said he had declared a state of emergency in the county — mobilizing state resources to help with the rescue. The governor asked for prayers for the safety of the workers and the rescue teams.

“Kentucky, keep praying — but the scene is bad,” Beshear said in a post about two hours later.

In a statement, State Sen. Phillip Wheeler, whose district includes Martin County, said he was saddened by the news.

“This incident is a stark reminder of the inherent risks in any job and the unexpected nature of tragedy,” Wheeler said. “The General Assembly and I are closely monitoring the situation. We are prepared to assist those affected by loss or injury and their families and the local government in any way we can.”

The workers were trapped while working to demolish the building at the abandoned mine site on Wolf Creek, Martin County Judge Executive Lon E. Lafferty said in a social media post early Wednesday.

Martin County Sheriff John Kirk said first responders were able to find and make contact with one of the two men, news outlets reported. The plant hasn’t been in use for several years and the men were on the bottom floor when it collapsed, trapping them beneath tons of rubble, Kirk said.

Several rescuers were inside the rubble as part of the rescue effort, Kirk said. The rescue could take days, Kirk said.

“This is a lot of weight. A lot of large metal structures, a lot of concrete, and very confined space last. Very tight spaces,” he said.

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