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2 dead after roof collapses in Louisiana salt mine

Cargill, the food production giant, said that 16 other workers at its Avery Island mine were evacuated.

Two mineworkers died after the roof of a Louisiana salt mine collapsed early Monday, the mine’s operator said.

Cargill, the food production giant, said in a statement that 16 other workers at its Avery Island mine were evacuated and no other injuries were reported.

The two dead miners were identified as Lance Begnaud, 48, of Broussard, and Rene Romero, Jr., 41, of New Iberia, the Iberia Parish Coroner's Office confirmed on Wednesday.

The cause of the collapse remained unclear and the company said the facility, located roughly 30 miles south of Lafayette, was shut down for an investigation into the incident.

The Advocate, a local newspaper, reported Monday that federal inspectors have issued more than 50 safety citations at the mine in the last year, according to data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

An inspection that began last month found several rescue device violations for underground personnel, while in September, inspectors cited the facility for hazardous waste, unattended equipment, training issues and emergency stop devices on conveyers, according the Advocate.

The company said in a statement that while an investigation is underway, there was "no indication" the violations played a role in Monday's collapse.