BOSTON (AP) — A water main gave way in Boston's South End neighborhood on Friday afternoon, flooding a deep trench and killing two workers.
Hours later, the Boston Fire Department recovered the two bodies after painstakingly working into the night. In Twitter messages, the department said its technical rescue crew had to work in a trench box. The firefighters were on their knees gently removing dirt with their hands to reach the dead workers.
"Very difficult operation on Dartmouth St. 1st responders trying to respect the deceased while continuing the recovery," read one tweet. After the second body was recovered shortly after 8 p.m., the department tweeted the recovery operation was over. It urged people to "remember their families/friends."
The two workers have not yet been publicly identified.
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans told The Boston Globe that it appears "somehow a pipe must have broke and unfortunately they weren't able to get themselves out of a hole." He said it appeared other workers were able to escape from the trench.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald said they found "workers trapped in a trench in the ground that was filling rapidly with water."
The trench was estimated to be about 12- to 15-feet deep.
Boston Police, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office will be investigating the cause of the deadly incident, MacDonald said. The workers were employed by a private contractor. Neighbors told The Boston Globe that trucks with the name Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. had been parked in the area for most of the week.
Neighbors described a chaotic scene of water suddenly pouring into the trench and then flooding the nearby streets.
"As I was walking around I caught the faces of some of the workers and the men were absolutely inconsolable and weeping and crying, and it was just the most somber, awful atmosphere to walk through," Julie Bellino, a witness, told Fox25.