6 Trapped In Utah Mine Collapse - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

6 Trapped In Utah Mine Collapse

(CBS/AP) A coal mine collapsed Monday in central Utah, trapping six miners, authorities said.

The Genwal mine cave-in reported at 3:50 a.m. was so powerful that authorities initially thought it was a small earthquake.

"Rescue workers are on scene trying to locate six miners that are unaccounted for," the sheriff's office said.

The miners are believed to be 1,500 feet below ground, about four miles from the mine entrance, said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman at the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Washington. There has been no contact with them, he said.

University of Utah seismograph stations recorded a seismic wave of 3.9 magnitude early Monday, causing speculation that a minor earthquake had caused the cave-in. Scientists later realized the collapse at the Genwal mine had caused the disturbance.

"There is no evidence that the earthquake triggered the mine collapse," said Walter Arabasz, director of the seismography stations.

Rescuers were within 2,500 feet of the miners, said Fillpot, who had no details on their conditions or the difficulty of the search.

A command center was being set up in Huntington, about 15 miles from the mine, said Teresa Behunin, an accountant with UtahAmerican Energy, part-owner of Genwal Resources Inc., which operates the mine. She had no other details.

Gov. Jon Huntsman broke away from a wildfire forum in Boise, Idaho, to return to Utah.

"We're going to expend every resource we have and make every effort to make sure lives are put first and foremost," he said as he departed Boise.

The mine is in the Manti-La Sal National Forest, 140 miles south of Salt Lake City, in a sparsely populated area.

Emery County is Utah's No. 2 coal-producing county. In that same county, 27 people died in a fire in the Wilburg mine in December 1984.

"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."

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, made a statement regarding the collapse at the Genwal Mine, reports CBS station KUTV.

"I offer my support to the families of the six missing miners and my thanks to those who are engaged in the current rescue operations. We are keeping in close contact with local officials in both Emery and Carbon Counties and the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration and hope to know more as the day goes on," Sen. Bennett said.

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