Second worker missing in Kentucky coal plant collapse is dead, governor says

A second worker trapped following the collapse of a shuttered Kentucky coal processing facility has died, Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday.

The two workers, Pike County residents Billy Ray Daniels and Alvin Nees, were removing machinery and preparing the building for demolition when the 11-story structure collapsed Tuesday in Martin County, authorities said.

Daniels was declared dead on Wednesday.

“This is a heartbreaking situation and I hope everyone will join Britainy and me in praying for the families of these two workers and this entire community,” Beshear said in a post Friday afternoon on X about the worker’s death.

A road leads to a collapsed coal preparation plant in Martin County, Ky.Ryan C. Hermens / Lexington Herald-Leader via Getty Images

As the search for the second worker stretched into its fourth day, one official said it was “both a rescue and a recovery operation.”

“I suspect, unfortunately, throughout the day, that you’re going to be hearing more and more about this becoming a full recovery operation,” Martin County Judge/Executive Lon Lafferty told reporters in rural eastern Kentucky, near the West Virginia border. “The circumstances there on the ground are certainly grim.”

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a coal mine collapse in Ky.Emergency personnel work at the scene of a coal mine collapse in Ky.NBC News

The search-and-rescue effort was a dangerous operation, as workers climbed on the unstable rubble with potentially toxic particulates in the air.

Kentucky Emergency Management Director Jeremy Slinker said they were taking all precautions.

Lafferty and Slinker spoke to reporters on Friday near the scene of the collapse, offering the public its first close-up look at the fallen structure.

There were four workers on the scene — two inside the building and two outside — when the structure collapsed, Lafferty said.

They were removing machinery from the closed Pontiki Preparation Plant in advance to the building’s eventual demolition, officials have said.

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