Rescuers on Thursday continued their frantic search for a man trapped under the rubble of a shuttered coal processing building that collapsed in rural Kentucky, officials said.
When Martin County Judge/Executive Lon Lafferty told reporters that searchers were still working feverishly to find the man alive — after another man was declared dead in the incident — it had been about 40 hours since the building had collapsed.
“We haven’t given up hope,” Lafferty said. “It remains a rescue mission.”
Two workers had been removing machinery and preparing the building for demolition when the 11-story structure crumbled at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, touching off the ongoing rescue effort to find the men from nearby Pike County, authorities said.
The incident unfolded at the closed Pontiki Preparation Plant, which has long been slated for demolition.
As crews remove debris, other searchers are taking a second look at the broken steel and concrete for possible clues.
Those workers are doing “a secondary search” for any evidence of the last known location of the victim, said Louisville Metro Emergency Services Director Jody Meiman, who is leading this search.
“It’s a very methodical process, it’s a very slow process, but it’s a process that has to take place,” Meiman added.
Records from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet list the building’s owner as Lexington Coal Company, which got the permit to bring it down on Dec. 4, 2018.
Lexington Coal would be “responsible for reclaiming the mine site, including the demolition of the prep plant, in accordance with its approved state mine permit and all applicable state and federal mining laws,” an Energy and Environment representative said Wednesday.
The permit allows Lexington Coal to begin its work there any time within the next five years and 30 days from the permit being granted on Dec. 4, 2018, according to the Energy and Environment Cabinet.
Representatives of Lexington Coal could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
A publicly listed phone number for Lexington Coal in West Virginia appeared to be disconnected. Another phone number for the company — this one out of Sidney, Kentucky, and provided by the Energy and Environment Cabinet — was also disconnected.