York & North Yorkshire

Kellingley pit death: Company 'at a loss' to explain incident

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Media captionUK Coal executive Gareth Williams confirmed the death of a miner at the Kellingley Colliery

The company which runs a Yorkshire pit where a roof collapse killed a miner and injured another says it is "at a loss" to explain the cause.

An investigation team from police and the Health and Safety Executive has spent the night underground at Kellingley colliery in North Yorkshire.

Andrew McIntosh, UK Coal spokesman, said it was "difficult to say" what had happened.

Tuesday's incident is the third death at Kellingley in three years.

Miner Ian Cameron died after equipment fell on him on 18 October 2009 and in September 2008, Don Cook died in a rock fall.

'Absolute tragedy'

The miner who died on Tuesday was in his 40s and from North Yorkshire.

The second man, who suffered minor injuries, was also in his 40s but from West Yorkshire, police said. He was taken to Pinderfields Hospital for treatment.

Mr McIntosh said: "We're at a loss to know at this stage exactly what's happened.

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Media captionYvette Cooper MP: "Everybody's still in a complete state of shock"

"It was a very good face for working conditions, the equipment was brand new so there's nothing immediately that springs to mind but the investigation will obviously look at all of those aspects.

"It's an absolute tragedy."

The mine is on the border of North and West Yorkshire - a mile-and-a-half outside Knottingley - and is one of Britain's deepest remaining coal mines.

The two 2,600ft (800m) shafts were sunk in the late-1950s and production began 1965.

Kellingley, known by miners as "The Big K", has been a major coal producer ever since and at its height employed about 2,000 people. Today about 800 people work there.

'Highest standards'

Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, in whose constituency Kellingley colliery is situated, said: "Very sadly, this is the third death we've had here at Kellingley.

"Coming on the back of the Welsh tragedy it clearly resonates with people how dangerous an industry mining is."

Ken Capstick, former vice-president of the National Union of Mineworkers in Yorkshire, said events at Kellingley were "very, very worrying indeed in terms of safety".

Image caption Kellingley Colliery is one of Britain's deepest remaining mines

"We've prided ourselves on being the safest mining industry in the world and so it certainly needs some serious examination," he said.

Carol Cameron, whose husband, Ian, died at Kellingley after equipment fell on him in October 2009, said she wanted the pit to close.

She said: "It should be shut down. How many other men are going to get killed down there?

"I don't think it's safe at all. It can't be or these accidents wouldn't be happening."

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary and MP for the neighbouring Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford constituency, said she had met unions and management at Kellingley.

Ms Cooper said: "Clearly everybody wants to make sure there are the highest standards of safety.

"When this kind of thing happens, of course you have to make sure that all those questions are answered."

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