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Two Patriot Coal Miners Killed

Patriot Coal
(Flickr/Paul Sableman)

Patriot Coal, headquartered in Creve Coeur, confirmed Tuesday that two of its miners in West Virginia were killed in a "severe coal burst."

Eric Legg, 48, and Gary Hensley, 46, were working in Brody Mine No. 1, about 50 miles south of Charleston, W.VA., when the accident occurred just after 8:45 p.m. Monday.

"We express our deepest sympathies to Eric's and Gary's families, friends and co-workers," said Mike Day, Patriot executive vice president of operations.  "We are fully cooperating with state and federal mine regulatory agencies to investigate this incident."

The Associated Press reported that the Brody Mine has a long history of violations and has been deemed a "pattern violator" by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Only three mines were given that designation last year.

The miners were killed when the floor collapsed during a coal burst, which is a violent failure of a roof, pillar or wall of coal along a passage inside the mine.

Patriot officials said the burst happened during retreat mining operations, when they collapse and remove pillars supporting the mine’s roof. Once the entire mine is collapsed, it's abandoned.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the violations could have had anything to do with a coal burst.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.