The bodies of two children who were playing near a hole in North Carolina were found on Monday buried under 20 feet of dirt, reports said.
James Levi Caldwell, 7, and Chloe Jade Arwood, 6, were playing near a dirt hole when it collapsed, causing the children to be buried. Lincoln County Emergency Services spokesman Dion Burleson said the children were declared dead at the scene and were transported to the Lincoln County Medical Examiner's Office.
Search efforts began Sunday after the father of the children called 911 and reported the collapse; rescue workers worked through the night attempting to recover the bodies of the children in hopes that they might still be alive.
A number of people across the nation who heard news of the story offered their prayers to the family.
"What an awful accident. Prayers for the families," one person wrote on an ABC blog.
"I feel bad for the family," another wrote. "My prayers are with them. I can't help but wonder what on earth one would build that would require a 22 ft deep hole. This sounds like a tragedy that could have been avoided if precautions were taken to safeguard the children who lived near the construction site."
It is still unclear what the father was attempting to build and whether or not he was working alone or with professionals. It appears that no permits had been issued for work plans, according to Fox news.
"There were several thousand pounds of dirt on top of them," Sheriff David Carpenter told Fox. The children were at the bottom of the pit when the incident occurred, attempting to retrieve a child's pickaxe toy. Carpenter added that the family had been too distraught to interview, but some reports suggested that the father was working on "protective bunker."
"They were so distraught we hope to be able to talk to them today and come up with some information on that," Carpenter told Fox. "It's a very large hole. It would look to be something like that, but I don't know. ... We're going to find out exactly what his intentions were."