Published Saturday, 15 September 2012
Emergency services at the scene of the tragedy in Hillsborough (© Pacemaker)
Three men aged 22, 30 and 58 and one woman were rescued from the pit in the Drumlough Road area shortly after 6pm on Saturday.
Two men were pronounced dead at the scene. Another man was taken to Lagan Valley Hospital for treatment, but he later died from his injuries.
It is understood the three men killed in the tragedy are a father and two sons.
The woman was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where a spokesperson said her injuries are not severe.
The Ulster Farmers' Union says the tragedy has shocked the farming community.
UFU President Harry Sinclair said: "On behalf of all our members, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family involved.
This news has shocked the farming community. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the three men who have so tragically lost their lives.
Harry Sinclair, UFU
"We understand that a fourth member of the family has been hospitalised and we pray that they will make a full recovery," Mr Sinclair added.
A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said it responded to a 999 call at around 6.15pm and immediately dispatched three Rapid Response Paramedics, four Accident and Emergency vehicles and an ambulance service doctor to the scene.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and police were also in attendance.
The NIAS spokesman said: "Three were unconscious and NIAS paramedics commenced resuscitation efforts immediately assisted by other ambulance personnel.
"One of the four showed initial signs of responding to the efforts of the crews and was transported immediately to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital, where unfortunately he died a short time later.
"Despite the best efforts of all involved the other two men died at the scene. A female was treated at the scene and taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she is recovering from the effects of fume inhalation."
UUP Agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson said: "This is an absolute tragedy and the impact will be felt far beyond the local area and within the farming community throughout Northern Ireland."
The Upper Bann MLA added: "My heart goes out to the family at this dreadful time."
SDLP Councillor Pat Catney, who is originally from the area, said: "I'm shocked and devastated. It's another farming accident, and there are too many of them.
"Something has to be done to stop these accidents. I'm sorry for the family and for the neighbours," he added.
The incident is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.