2 men presumed to be dead after 20-foot deep trench collapses in Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two men are presumed to be dead in a collapsed trench in Texas, officials said Tuesday.

Their bodies had not been recovered as of Tuesday afternoon but are trapped in a 2-foot wide space more than 20 feet deep, according to a Williamson County news release.

The workers have not yet been identified. They were digging a trench for a sewer line in the 13700 block of Interstate 35 North in Jarrell, about 35 miles north of Austin, when the incident happened, said Nick Spinetto, a spokesman for the city of Jarrell.

Emergency crews received a call at 8:39 a.m. Tuesday about the incident, the release said. It said the crews asked for help from technical rescue teams from Georgetown, Round Rock and the Austin fire departments. The Williamson County sheriff's office is also assisting with recovery efforts.

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Crews worked unsuccessfully for four hours to reach the buried workers, who were then presumed dead, Spinetto said. Excavating equipment was brought in, but work to shore up the fragile trench walls continued all Tuesday afternoon as fresh collapses were feared, he said.

"It’s a really involved process for the safety of our rescuers, for the safety of our emergency personnel,” Spinetto said. "They have to remove certain dirt and almost make steps to make sure the crews can get down there without causing any more dirt to collapse."

Recovery efforts were to continue Wednesday, Spinetto said. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was to investigate the incident.

Two construction workers died after a trench collapsed in St. Paul, Minnesota, less than two weeks ago.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: After Texas trench collapses, two workers presumed dead

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