HUNTINGTON, Utah (AP) - Six miners were trapped in a coal mine Monday by a cave-in so powerful that authorities initially thought it was small earthquake.
Eight hours after the underground cave-in was reported, rescuers had not had any contact with the miners and were still trying to reach the crew, which was believed to be 1,500 feet below ground, about four miles from the mine entrance.
Rescuers were within 2,500 feet of the miners' presumed location, said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman at the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Washington. It was not known what kind of breathing equipment the miners had.
University of Utah seismograph stations recorded seismic waves of 3.9 magnitude early Monday in the area of the mine, 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.
Since the mid-1990s, at least a half-dozen other mine collapses have caused similar seismic waves, including a 1995 cave-in in southwestern Wyoming that caused readings as high as 5.4 on the Richter scale.
Authorities set up a command center 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.
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.
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.