A former employee at Xstrata’s Ravensworth mine has told an inquiry that he and other workers used their hands to rescue a miner buried under debris.
The inquiry is investigating the death of 59 year old David Oldknow in 2009 after ten tonnes of coal waste collapsed on his truck.
AAP reports Geoffrey King said after hearing about the accident on his truck radio he drove immediately to the scene.
King said while workers eventually reached Oldknow they were too late to save him.
“I don’t remember having a shovel, I think we were doing it with our hands,” he said.
“I lifted David’s head up. It felt like his neck was broken. I gave him CPR and that was it.”
According to AAP King said he “never went back” to Ravensworth after the accident.
The inquiry said the mine had a system where waste rock would fall from overhead bins into trucks, and there were two possible explanations for Oldknow’s death.
Investigators said it was likely either the sensor beam guiding rock into the trucks had been blocked by debris, causing ore to fall prematurely.
The other explanation was a programming failure in the system controlling the trucks and ore bins.
The inquiry will continue for the rest of this week.