A miner has died in the second fatal mining accident in a fortnight after a roof collapsed in one of Britain’s deepest remaining collieries.
Another man who was trapped in the incident in North Yorkshire survived after he was rescued him from the 800-metre-deep pit at Kellingley colliery, Knottingley. The alarm was raised after a rockfall at 4.35pm, prompting a major response by emergency services including a specialist hazardous area response team from the Yorkshire ambulance service, whose members are trained to work underground.
The surviving miner, who had been trapped by the lower leg, was taken to hospital with minor injuries after the response team and the mine’s own rescue unit brought the two to the surface at around 7.30pm. He was said to be in his 40s and from the West Yorkshire area.
The other man, who was aged in his 40s and was from North Yorkshire, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Outside the mine, sisters Leanne and Abby Crowther wept with relief when they were told by their grandparents that their father, who was on the miners’ rescue team, was safe.
Leanne said they had been waiting for news about her father Martin since 5pm, adding: “It’s been horrible. We’ve just been sat at home beside ourselves. We’ve had no phone calls or anything.”
“Chances are he’ll have dragged whoever it is out,” she added.
The incident came on the eve of the funeral of the first of four men who died earlier this month following the flooding of the Gleision colliery in Cilybebyll, Pontardawe, the UK’s worst mining disaster for 30 years.
In 2009, Ian Cameron died at Kellingley colliery after an equipment failure. Don Cook died in a rock fall in September 2008. In 2009, UK Coal received summonses from the Health and Safety Executive relating to four deaths in separate incidents at its collieries.
UK Coal evacuated 218 workers last year after methane gas seeped into the North Yorkshire area and ignited. The colliery’s 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.
A joint investigation into Tuesday’s incident is to be carried out by specialist mine inspectors from the HSE and North Yorkshire police.Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper fought back tears yesterday as she told supporters at the Labour Party conference that there had been a mining accident on the edge of her Pontefract and Castleford constituency.
After apologising to the audience for planning to cut short her appearance at a party conference fringe event, she later issued a statement saying: “The entire community will be devastated by this and I know everyone will want to support the families at this dreadful time.”