UPDATE: Miners killed in Avery Island salt mine collapse identified

Iberia Parish

NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) – UPDATE: The Iberia Parish has released the names of the two miners killed in Monday’s collapse.

Lance Begnaud Jr. (Submitted photo)

They are identified as 27-year-old Lance Begnaud Jr., of Broussard, and Rene Romero Jr., 41, of New Iberia.

Cargill officials released this statement Wednesday morning.

“On Tuesday evening, the rescue team recovered the second of the two missing miners who was also fatally injured in the accident at our Avery Island mine. Our hearts are broken for our colleagues and their families. To respect their privacy, we will not be sharing further details about the employees at this time. We continue to offer both families support and extend our deepest condolences for their loss. 

We care about our teammates and have professional grief counselors on site at our facility who will be available to our team as needed. The safety and well-being of our colleagues is our top priority. We are grieving with the community as we face this loss together.

As rescue efforts have concluded, we now focus on completing our investigation in coordination with the Mine Health and Safety Administration to better understand what caused the accident. We are committed to learning from this tragedy and remain unwavering in our dedication to safe operations. “

UPDATE: The two miners who went missing when a roof collapsed in the Avery Island Salt Mine Monday morning were working.

A total of 18 miners were inside with 16 of those employees escaping without injuries.

All day on Monday, mine rescue crews made their way underground to the spot where the roof collapsed, but to no avail.

Overnight, they secured the site and searched through the debris for the two missing miners.

Early Tuesday morning, a rescue team found the body of one of the miners.

Crews are still underground hoping they can find and save the second miner who was trapped, but as of right now, he is still missing.

Cargill says they are still investigating the cause of the roof collapse in the salt mine.

We have recently learned that the mine safety and health administration has issued several citations here recently.

In the last year, citations and fines were issued for not properly securing unattended mining equipment, not maintaining two way communication systems for underground workers, and not properly halting other activities during blasting operations.

In November, 2019 Cargill was also cited for improper maintenance of escape routes.

A spokesperson for Cargill says there’s no indication that the roof collapse in the salt mine is related to an inspection issued identified in these recent citations.

Read the company’s statement below:

Cargill is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in our community.  I can confirm that this morning the rescue team recovered one of the missing miners who was fatally injured in the accident. We are continuing to do everything we can to locate the other team member with whom we have not had contact since the accident. Out of respect for the families, we will not be sharing further details about the employees at this time. Our sympathy is with the family who is mourning the loss of a loved one and we are offering support to them.

We are working around the clock with the Mine Safety and Health Administration to safely complete the rescue efforts. We care about our teammates and have professional grief counselors on site at our facility who will be available to our team as needed. The safety and well-being of our colleagues is our top priority. We are grieving with the community as we face this loss together.”

AVERY ISLAND, La. (KLFY) — A roof collapse at Cargill’s Avery Island salt mine has left two miners unaccounted for as officials continue to respond to the emergency.

Cargill Media Relations Director Daniel Sullivan issued the following statement:

Early Monday morning, the roof fell in one intersection of Cargill’s Avery Island salt mine. We have two employees who remain unaccounted for at this time. Our rescue operations team and the Mine Safety and Health Administration are onsite responding to this emergency. The 16 other employees working that shift have been evacuated with no injuries reported. The facility has been shut down to allow a complete investigation of the incident and ensure the safe operation of our facility.

Throughout the day we have been relocating critical equipment to aid in the search and rescue efforts. Our mine rescue teams are advancing to the location of the collapse to secure the site underground and intend to work through the night. Our immediate focus is on the two missing miners and the safety of the rescue personnel.

While we are still investigating the cause of today’s roof collapse, there is no indication it is related to the inspection issues identified in the recent MSHA citations.

Daniel Sullivan

This is a developing story. As more information becomes available, we will post it here.

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