Romanian emergency officials say three workers who were repairing a railway line have died after rocks and dirt gave way and trapped them.

A spokesman for the local Inspectorate for Emergency Situations, Claudiu Achim, said the three men were working on a bridge near the western town of Petrosani on Saturday morning when they were hit by falling boulders and soil.

Some 20 emergency workers attempted to rescue the workers, but they died under the rubble. Achim says the men ranged in age from 52 to 63.

Authorities have opened an inquiry into whether health and safety regulations were being followed.