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.
(USA TODAY) -- Emergency crews early Monday recovered the bodies of two young children that were buried under a collapsing wall of dirt in a 25-foot-deep hole at a home construction site in rural North Carolina.
Lincoln County crews working through the night located the bodies of the 7-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl shortly before daybreak, but moved cautiously to remove them because of the danger of a new cave-in.
"These are horrific circumstances," Lincoln County Emergency Services spokesman Dion Burleson told reporters Monday.
Neighbors said a man building a home had been digging with a backhoe earlier Sunday at the site in Stanley, the Associated Press reported. The children were trapped in the hole later when part of it caved in.
The father of one of the children called 911 to report the incident shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday. The children's names have not yet been released.
Neighbors stood by in disbelief as dozens of fire trucks emergency workers spent hours trying to get to the children.
"We worked as if they were alive," Burleson told The Charlottes Observer Sunday evening. "Times like these are very difficult. It's devastating for the family and each and every responder."
Crews 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, responded to the scene.
Burleson said an investigation was underway. He said he didn't have information on construction permits at the site.