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Miner Found Dead at Coal Processing Plant in West Virginia

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State and federal investigators are trying to determine what killed a 48-year-old miner found Monday at a coal mining operation in Raleigh County.

James Ray Adkins of Colcord, West Virginia, was discovered missing at approximately 7:10 a.m. at Marfork Coal Co.'s Horse Creek Eagle Deep Mine, according to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

Preliminary information indicated that Adkins was later found dead from initially unknown causes in the raw coal stockpile at the Marfork Processing Plant near Pettus, the office reported.

The mine and processing plant were idled Monday. Inspectors from the state office and federal Mine Safety and Health Administration were on site.

Steve Hawkins, spokesman for parent company Alpha Natural Resources, said there appears to have been a belt haulage accident. Adkins worked at the company for 17 years, he said.

Adkins was employed as a belt man and fire boss at the mine.

The incident raises deaths in U.S. coal mining to 14 this year, half in West Virginia, according to MSHA. Eight coal miners died in workplace accidents last year.

"Cathy and I are deeply saddened and our hearts are broken after learning of the death of one of our miners. I ask all West Virginians to join us in praying for the Adkins family, their friends and all of our dedicated miners in West Virginia." -- Gov. Jim Justice

“I am heartbroken to learn of the loss of James Adkins in Raleigh County today. We are again reminded of the incredible sacrifices made by our coal miners and their families each and every day. Gayle and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Mr. Adkins.” -- Sen. Joe Manchin

“Today, West Virginia lost one of its own, miner James Adkins. My sympathies go out to the Adkins family during this difficult time. Miners like James are the heart of our communities and work tirelessly to power our state, and we must never waiver in our commitment to keep them safe.” -- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito


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