In this image made from video and provided by WSOC-TV Charlotte, authorities work to rescue two children at a construction site on Sunday in Stanley, N.C.
(USATODAY.com) - Two children were killed Sunday in a rural North Carolina town after a wall of dirt at a home construction site collapsed on them, The Charlotte Observer reported. Crews are expected to work throughout the night to recover the bodies.
The father of one of the children called 911 to report the incident at about 6 p.m., Lincoln County Emergency Services public information officer Dion Burleson said of the rescue effort turned recovery operation.
Neighbors stood by in disbelief as dozens of fire trucks spent hours trying to get to the 7-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.
"We worked as if they were alive," Burleson told The Observer Sunday evening. "Times like these are very difficult. It's devastating for the family and each and every responder."
Crews at the Denver neighborhood placed a safety barrier around the pit and used shovels and climbing gear to try and reach the children, trapped about 20 feet underground, according to WSOC-TV.
Some 65 emergency personnel from several places, including nearby Charlotte, were on the scene.
A neighbor told The Observer that a family member building a new home at the site had been digging with a backhoe there earlier in the day. The children were trapped in the hole later when part of it caved in.
Burleson said an investigation was under way. He said he didn't have information on construction permits at the site.
"This is a tragic night in Denver," Burleson said.
Contributing: The Associated Press