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(STANLEY, N.C.) — Authorities found the bodies of two children buried under 20 feet of dirt after the hole they were playing in at a home construction site in Stanley, N.C., collapsed.

Lincoln County Emergency Services spokesman Dion Burleson told ABC News that at 6 a.m. Monday morning, rescue workers found the body of a 6-year-old girl at the bottom of a hole.  One hour later, they found the body of a 7-year-old boy.

Burleson said the hole the children were found in was approximately 22 feet deep and 20 feet wide.  He said the children were found buried below a significant amount of heavy dirt.

The children were declared dead at the scene and were transported to the Lincoln County Medical Examiner’s Office, Burleson said.  Officials told ABC News’ Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV that the children were cousins.

Rescue workers were called to the scene at around 6 p.m. Sunday evening when one of the children’s fathers called to report the accident.  Burleson said the father said he had seen the dirt collapse on the children.

Two hours into the search, the mission switched from a rescue to a recovery, Burleson said, because there was no oxygen in the pit where the children were trapped.  More than 70 emergency workers worked overnight to get to the children trapped beneath the dirt.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the cause of the accident.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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