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West Virginia mine was doing risky retreat mining

WHARTON, W.Va. (AP) - The two workers who were killed in an underground coal mine in West Virginia were performing a risky method known as retreat mining.

That's where the roof is intentionally collapsed to retrieve more coal. Retreat mining has been going on for generations and is considered standard practice in mines where coal reserves are running out. It involves yanking supporting pillars of coal from inside the mine and letting the roof collapse as miners and equipment work their way out.

The men were killed Monday night at the Brody Mine No. 1. Federal regulators say the mine had so many safety problems officials had deemed it a "pattern violator," a rare designation reserved for the industry's worst offenders.

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Officials from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration say two workers were trapped and killed in an accident at a West Virginia coal mine.

Amy Louviere of the agency told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday morning that a ground failure occurred at the mine around 8:30 p.m. Monday. She says the miners' bodies have been recovered, and personnel from the agency are on the site.

Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County is owned by St. Louis-based Patriot Coal.

In October, the safety agency designated the mine as a pattern violator, meaning it had repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations in the previous year.

Patriot said in a statement at the time that it believed the mine didn't qualify for the status and that it intended to contest it.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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