Kellingley pit rescue: One miner dead, one safe

A MINER has been killed and another rescued after being trapped up to their waists following a roof fall in a North Yorkshire pit this evening.

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The dead man was brought to the surface this evening. The other miner, who was trapped by his leg, was rescued and treated.

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The two men had become trapped by debris at Kellingley Colliery, close to Knottingley, on the border with West Yorkshire.

Speaking outside the mine, Gareth Williams, managing director for coal mining for the pit’s owner UK Coal, said: “A fall of roof occurred at 4.35pm which trapped two of our colleagues.

“Colleagues successfully recovered one of the two employees trapped by the lower leg. He is now on the surface.

“UK Coal regrets to confirm the second colleague was confirmed dead by our own team, despite our best efforts.

“No names are going to be released at the moment.”

Mr Williams said the company’s thoughts were with the family of the miner.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance was deployed at about 5pm. Yorkshire Ambulance Service said ambulance teams went to the colliery, after receiving an emergency call at 4.51pm.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it was responding to a collapse in the mine.

A specialist hazardous area response team, trained specifically to work underground, was in attendance, the ambulance service said.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance was sent, as well as a rapid response team and two doctors.

While the rescue was still going on, family members who did not know if loved-ones were involved gathered at the mine entrance, some of them in tears.

A sign at the site read: “Welcome to Kellingley, where safety comes first.

“Remember, think safety every hour of the day. Britain’s best miners work at Kellingley.”

Two sisters broke down in tears as they were told by their grandparents that their father was safe.

Leanne and Abby Crowther hugged and sobbed as they heard the good news.

Leanne said they had been waiting for news about her father Martin since 5pm.

She said: “It’s been horrible. We’ve just been sat at home beside ourselves. We’ve had no phone calls or anything.”

The family said Mr Crowther was a fourth-generation miner who was on the miners’ rescue team.

“Chances are he’ll have dragged whoever it is out,” Leanne said.

A retired miner had also come to show his support. Brian Hawes, 63, from Castleford, said he was confident the miners would be rescued safely.

He said: “Over 40 years I’ve been in the mining industry, I’ve seen many major incidents unfortunately.

“You’ll always get danger in the mining industry but the safety side of the mining industry now is absolutely first class.

“I’ve every confidence they’ll get those lads out.

“There’ll be rescue teams, specialists, all on stand-by and on the job. They’ll not stop until they get those lads out.”

The colliery is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

Its two main shafts are almost 800 meters deep. Only one of the shafts is used by miners, the other is used to transport coal.

It supplies local power stations and produces some household coal.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper fought back tears tonight as she told Labour supporters there had been a mining accident on the edge of her Pontefract and Castleford constituency.

Apologising to the audience for planning to cut short her appearance at a party conference fringe event, she said: “There has been an incident at a colliery on the edge of my constituency.

“There are reports of two miners trapped underground.”

She added “they are working hard to...” before her voice cracked with emotion.

Two miners have died at Kellingley in the last two years. In September 2008 an underground rock fall killed Don Cook and another Kellingley miner, Ian Cameron, died the following month after equipment fell on him.

It is believed that a dozen miners have died at the pit since the first shaft was sunk in 1958. A memorial to them, unveiled last year, now stands at the pit head.

UK Coal evacuated 218 workers from the mine last year after methane gas seeped into the area and ignited.

Today’s rescue operation The drama follows the tragedy in south Wales earlier this month when four men died following the flooding of the Gleision Colliery in Cilybebyll, Pontardawe.