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Ky. mine sees 1st US coal fatality of 2017

A conveyor belt attendant died in an accident in Pike County, Ky., on Jan. 26 in the first U.S. coal mine fatality of 2017.

According to a press release from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, Ray Hatfield of Hi Hat, Ky., was working at the R&C Coal LLC Mine No. 2 in Pikeville when the accident occurred.

"Yesterday after a mine shift they realized that one of the workers hadn't come out," KEEC spokesperson John Mura told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Mura said the mine was shut down while an investigation is conducted.

"I'm asking all Kentuckians who understand and appreciate the power of prayer to please join with me in praying for the family, friends and co-workers of the Pikeville coal miner who tragically lost his life on the job yesterday," Republican Gov. Matt Bevin said in a release. "United we stand, divided we fall. We are Kentucky."

Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely said, "We grieve this loss and are investigating the accident thoroughly."

Last year saw a record low in U.S. coal mine deaths, with nine fatalities reported.