The Latest: Pumps arrive to help recover Mississippi miners

AP News
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Posted: Jun 06, 2016 7:58 PM

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on recovery efforts of two men trapped Friday in a gravel pit landslide (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Heavy duty pumps that could help recover the bodies of two miners from a central Mississippi gravel pit have arrived.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere said Monday that the pumps, which can help remove more mud than those previously in use, have arrived and were being hooked up.

Emmitt Shorter and James "Dee" Hemphill were operating a track hoe and a dump truck at Green Brothers Gravel Company near Crystal Springs when a quicksand-like slurry buried their vehicles under 10 feet of mud before noon Friday.

Attempts to dislodge the vehicles with a crane failed Saturday and Sunday.

Officials believe the men to be dead.

MSHA manager William O'Dell says officials are focused on recovering the bodies and will investigate the cause of the incident later.

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4:45 p.m.

Officials trying to recover the bodies of two miners following a Friday landslide at a central Mississippi gravel pit say heavy duty pumps are expected to arrive Monday evening to help in that effort.

Emmitt Shorter and James "Dee" Hemphill were operating a track hoe and a dump truck at Green Brothers Gravel Company near Crystal Springs when a quicksand-like slurry engulfed their vehicles.

Officials believe the men to be dead.

Supervised by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, workers tried to remove the vehicles Saturday and Sunday with a crane but were unable to dislodge them. Heavier pumps that can remove mud and slurry were being escorted to the site Monday by state troopers.

MSHA manager William O'Dell says officials are focused on recovering the bodies and will investigate the cause of the incident later.

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2:30 p.m.

Mississippi's state emergency management director is identifying the two men missing since Friday at a gravel pit in central Mississippi as Emmitt Shorter and James "Dee" Hemphill.

In a Facebook message, Lee Smithson named the men and offered condolences to their families. Family members earlier identified them to local reporters.

Smithson says the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency responded quickly Friday, but didn't have legal authority to take over because the slide happened on private property and because mining accidents are the responsibility of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Smithson says the state doesn't own equipment needed to respond, but says officials "did everything we could." Smithson pledges an investigation of the incident and recovery operations.

Gov. Phil Bryant and federal officials plan a 4 p.m. briefing to update efforts.

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9 a.m.

A spokeswoman for the Mine Safety and Health Administration says the search for two workers missing in a landslide at a gravel pit in Mississippi will resume once a truck and excavator that also are buried can be removed.

Amy Louviere said Monday officials are evaluating another approach to remove the heavy equipment.

Louviere says the two men were operating heavy equipment for Green Brothers at a pit near Crystal Springs on Friday when they were completely buried in 10 feet to 12 feet of mud, slush and sluice.

Louviere said mine employees have built a road so a crane can access the area and lift out the buried equipment.

The names of the miners have not been released.