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DENVER, N.C. (AP) — Authorities continued searching early Monday for the bodies of two children who were trapped when dirt fell on them while playing in a hole at a home construction site near Charlotte.

A father of one of the children called 911 Sunday afternoon, according to Lincoln County Emergency Management officials. The Charlotte Observer reported that Jordan Caldwell told operators he saw the dirt collapse on the 6-year-old girl and 7-year-old boy.

Officials say crews were on the scene within minutes but couldn’t get to the children, who were trapped about 20 feet below a new home that was under construction. Neighbors told the newspaper a man building the home had been digging with a backhoe earlier in the day.

Neighbors also told WBTV-TV the children were cousins.

Authorities said late Sunday they didn’t expect to find the children alive, but crews used shovels and climbing gear throughout the night trying to get to the children at the Denver neighborhood.

This is “devastating for both the family members and responders who are on the scene,” Emergency Services public information officer Dion Burleson said. “This is a tragic night in Denver.”

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