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 Post subject: Six Trapped in Collapsed Utah Coal Mine
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 4:43 pm 
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Six Trapped in Collapsed Utah Coal Mine

Monday, August 06, 2007

HUNTINGTON, Utah — Six coal miners were trapped Monday when a mine in Emery County collapsed in a cave-in so powerful that authorities initially thought it was small earthquake.

Authorities originally believed that a magnitude 4.0 earthquake triggered the collapse of the Genwal mine in Emery County. But the seismograph station now says that there is no evidence that an earthquake occurred. Instead, evidence indicates that the mine collapsed with such force it registered as an earthquake.

The miners are believed to be about 1,500 feet underground, four miles from the entrance of the mine. There has been no communication with the six, according to a statement from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

“Mine rescue teams are in the mine and are within about 2,500 feet of where MSHA believes the miners were working," said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman for the MSHA.

(Story continues below)

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A mine executive told the Associated Press that the trapped miners would have enough food and water to last several days if they survived the cave-in.

At least a half-dozen other mine collapses since 1995 have caused similar seismic waves, including one in southwestern Wyoming that caused readings as high as 5.4 on the Richter scale.

• Click here to watch video of the mine collapse coverage.

The Genwal mine reported that the mine had caved in at 3:50 a.m., an hour after the magnitude 4.0 earthquake was recorded, the Emery County sheriff's office said.

The rescue attempt began around 3 a.m., the sheriff said.

“There appears to be no explosion," said Davit Mcateer, a former spokesman with the MSHA who said the six were all males working the midnight shift.

"You can get some shifting, or rock bursts, what are called outbursts. ... It’s quite a dangerous situation,” Mcateer said.

Rocky Mountain Power, which owns a different coal mine nearby, sent a rescue team and heavy equipment, spokesman Dave Eskelsen said.

A command center had been set up in Huntington, about 15 miles from the mine, said Teresa Behunin, an accountant affiliated with the mine.

She had no other details.

The sheriff's office earlier had said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries blamed on the quake.

"We aren't panicked yet," Linda Jewkes, president of the Emery County Chamber of Commerce, said after hearing the news. "We're very, very concerned and very cautious when it comes to the mines."

Utah ranked 12th in coal production in 2006. It had 13 underground coal mines in 2005, the most recent statistics available, according to the Utah Geological Survey.

Emery County, the state's No. 2 coal-producer, also was the site of a fire that killed 27 people in the Wilburg mine in December 1984.

“We all know of people that are there and related to those people," said Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon, referring to the small-town community surrounding the mine.

"Our chief prayer and hope is that these miners are rescued safely and that they are unharmed."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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