MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WOWK) — One person has died inside a collapsed coal preparation plant in Martin County, Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed Wednesday.
The 11-story building at Martin Mine Prep Plant in Martin County collapsed around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, trapping two men working there beneath multiple floors of concrete and steel.
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.
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, added Martin County Sheriff John Kirk.
Officials have not released details about the extent of the surviving worker’s injuries. 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.
“As of right now, the situation does not look good,” Lafferty said Wednesday afternoon. “This remains, as of this hour, a rescue operation.”
Special Operations Battalion Chief Chris Ward of the Lexington Fire Department said rescue crews have been using search dogs and cadaver dogs to look through the rubble. The men were part of a larger crew working on the ground level of the site at the time of the collapse, and law enforcement has been coordinating with at least one eye witness to help identify key search areas.
“We’re in under that structure and we’re just trying to search all the voids with cameras, listening devices, just trying to see if we can get any idea of where that individual might be. But at this time, we haven’t located anything,” Ward said.
Officials lamented the lack of cell phone and internet service in providing timely updates to various agencies as well as moving necessary equipment on small, rural roads.
Beshear declared a state of emergency Wednesday in the county following the collapse. He asked Kentuckians to join him and his wife Britainy “in praying for their safety and for the brave teams working to rescue them.”
Director of Kentucky Emergency Management Col. Jeremy Slinker said several state agencies have begun investigations into the collapse and possible causes, including Kentucky state police.
The Kentucky Division of Occupational Safety and Health Compliance said one of its officers was on site and that an inspection had been opened with Lexington Coal Company LLC, which had contracted with Skeens Enterprises LLC for site demolition and salvage operations.
The division said the investigation could take up to six months to complete.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.