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2 killed, 20 injured in Colorado mining accident

| Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

OURAY, Colo. — Two workers were killed and 20 were injured on Sunday in a mining accident near the southwestern Colorado town of Ouray.

The Ouray County Sheriff's Office was called to the Revenue-Virginius mine about 7:20 a.m., county spokeswoman Marti Whitmore said. The miners were underground and were confirmed dead on Sunday afternoon.

“Anything that has been reported is speculative,” Whitmore said. “We don't know what the cause is.”

Star Mine Operations LLC, the owner of the mine, could not immediately be reached for comment, but Whitmore said the company has accounted for all of the workers at the site.

She said 20 people were taken to hospitals, and all but two were treated and released. The conditions of those two hospitalized workers have not been released.

The accident was not related to a cave-in or mine collapse but was apparently a “powder-smoke incident,” Rory Williams, project manager for Star Mine Operations, told the Ouray Watch newspaper. A release of chemicals in the smoke injured the miners.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is at the accident site, which is about 270 miles southwest of Denver.

The last major mining disaster in Colorado occurred on April 15, 1981, when an explosion killed 15 people at the Mid-Continent Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine near Redstone.

In 2000, a 37-year-old man was killed on being struck by a high-pressure hose that snapped off a piece of equipment in the Sanborn Creek Mine.

And in 2011, a New Mexico contract worker died after being injured at the West Elk Coal Mine in Somerset, in western Colorado. The Mine and Safety Administration found the 53-year-old slipped and fell from a beam at a tower construction site.

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