Three Hurt From Underground Mine Air Blast

Three workers were hurt after ground apparently shifted at an underground limestone mine in western Pennsylvania causing a rush of air through the mine’s entrance, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The workers were about to enter the Whitney quarry in Unity Township, Westmoreland County when they were hurt, according to Amy Louviere, spokeswoman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The company and MSHA investigators couldn’t immediately characterize what happened because they were unable to enter the underground portion of the site.

The miners were found about 50 ft. from the entrance. Two, who were unconscious, were flown to Pittsburgh hospitals and the third was taken by ambulance to a hospital closer to the mine, Louviere said. The mine is about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The mine is run by Hanson Aggregates/Lehigh Hanson Inc. of Irving, Texas, which is part of HeidelbergCement Group.Lehigh Hanson spokesman Jeff Sieg said company officials weren’t sure exactly what injured the workers. Whatever fell into the mine caused air to rush out of its entrance, much like pressing on a balloon would cause air to rush out of its opening, Sieg said.

As a result, company officials weren’t sure if the workers were knocked down or thrown by the force of the air, or whether they were hit by debris, or both. Nobody was in the mine at the time.

The names and conditions of the workers were not immediately released.

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