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1 worker dead, another trapped after building collapse at coal plant

An 11-story building collapsed at a coal preparation plant, killing one worker assisting in its demolition and trapping another.
1 worker dead, another trapped after building collapse at coal plant
Posted at 3:31 PM, Nov 01, 2023

One person has died after an 11-story building collapsed at an abandoned coal mine site in Kentucky, trapping him and a coworker under multiple floors of concrete and steel.

The building near Middlefork Wolfe Creek Road in Martin County collapsed around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and several teams are still working to rescue the two trapped workers.

Martin County Judge/Executive Dr. Lon Lafferty said the tragedy isn't foreign within the industry, but he said it was a "terrible day," as rescue workers tried to locate the second employee.

"We haven't given up hope on the second worker," he said.

Officials say next of kin have been notified for the workers involved.

Lafferty said the building was in the process of being demolished at the time of its collapse, with the men being on the bottom floor at the time. The structure hadn't been in use in several years.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency in the county, signing an executive order to mobilize state resources to the area. 

"Kentucky, keep praying — but the scene is bad and we should be prepared for tough news out of Martin County," he said in a post on X hours later.

Several agencies are on the scene assisting, including the Lexington Fire Department Special Operations Unit. The department said eight people were deployed to Martin County, all of whom are structural collapse specialists assisting with the search and rescue efforts. Crews are also using dogs to help search the rubble as well as cameras and listening devices.

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