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Thornton miner dies in roof collapse

A Letcher County coal miner died Wednesday night after a roof collapsed at a Sapphire Coal Co. mine. Phillip Newton, 34, of Thornton is thought to have been operating a continuous-mining machine when the roof fell, according to a press release from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet. The Office of Mine Safety and Licensing will investigate.

Newton's death is the state's second underground mine fatality in 2009, according to Mine Safety and Health Administration numbers. It's the state's sixth coal-mining fatality for the year.

In June, Wilson Rome Meade was killed at a D&C Mining Corp. underground mine in Harlan County when a chain broke, allowing a supply car to roll downhill and pin him, according to a report from MSHA.

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