UTAH COAL MINE COLLAPSE

No Word From 6 Trapped Utah Miners
4.0 Earthquake Hit Near Mine On Monday Morning

POSTED: 11:53 am EDT August 6, 2007
UPDATED: 1:38 pm EDT August 6, 2007

HUNTINGTON, Utah -- A coal mine collapsed Monday in central Utah, trapping six miners, less than 20 miles from the epicenter of a 4.0 magnitude earthquake, authorities said.

The Genwal mine reported a "cave-in" at 3:50 a.m., an hour after the earthquake, the Emery County sheriff's office said.

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

The earthquake occurred at 2:48 a.m., and a "short time later we received information about the cave-in at Genwal mine," Sheriff Lamar Guymon told KSL radio in Salt Lake City.

There has been no contact with the miners, said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman at the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Washington.

The miners were believed to be 1,500 feet below the surface, about four miles from the mine entrance, Fillpot said.

Rocky Mountain Power, a utility with a power plant in the area, sent a rescue team and heavy equipment to the mine, about 140 miles south of Salt Lake City, spokesman Dave Eskelsen said.

A command center was being set up in Huntington, about 15 miles from the mine, said Teresa Behunin, an accountant with Utah American Energy, which owns the mine. She had no other details.

The sheriff's office had said earlier there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries blamed on the quake, centered under the Huntington Canyon area, about 100 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

Emery County has had at least one prior mine disaster, when, in 1984, a fire in the Wilberg mine killed 27.

Neighboring Carbon County also has had three notable disasters. In 2000, two men died during an explosion at the Willow Creek mine; a 1924 explosion took 172 lives at the Castle Gate mine; the Scofield mine disaster of 1900 claimed 200.

Emery and Carbon counties were originally one county until the territorial legislature split them in 1894.

According to the state of Utah, the mine is projected to be one of the smallest producers of coal in the state in 2007 at 625,000 short tons.

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

Distributed by Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report.