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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mine safety advocates on Thursday renewed their calls for tougher enforcement in the wake of a major roof fall that killed two coal miners at an Alliance Resource Partners operation in western Kentucky.
The deaths at the Dotiki Mine near Nebo in Hopkins County stunned the coalfields, coming just 24 days after the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years, an April 5 explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County.
Justin Travis of Dixon, Ky., was 27. Michael Carter of Hanson, Ky., was 28.
"Once again, two miners are dead, and we're waiting to see what exactly happened to cause it," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers union.
Smith noted that state and federal records indicated the Dotiki Mine had a history of safety problems, including some of the most serious citations inspectors can issue.
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration records showed more than 850 citations and enforcement orders issued to the Dotiki Mine since January 2009.
During the mine's most recent complete inspection, which ended March 31, the MSHA inspectors cited at least 10 violations of federal roof-control standards, among other things.
"Safety in a coal mine is the responsibility of the operator, first and foremost," Smith said. "It's become abundantly clear recently that some coal operators aren't going to follow current law, no matter what the level of enforcement is.