SALT LAKE CITY – A coal mine collapse that registered as a 3.9 magnitude earthquake and killed six miners occurred so quickly that it probably eliminated any chance for the men to escape, according to a report released Monday.
The Aug. 6 Crandall Canyon mine collapse began near the area where miners were excavating coal and quickly grew to a 50-acre cave-in, the University of Utah report said.
Three rescuers died 10 days later in a subsequent collapse.
Walter Arabasz, director of the university's seismograph stations, said the initial collapse likely only took a few seconds, contrary to earlier reports.
The report said the area size of the cave-in was nearly four times larger than federal investigators initially thought. It also disputes claims by mine owner Bob Murray that the earthquake caused the mine collapse. The study said the mine collapse was the earthquake.
Murray declined to comment on the report Monday.
The report has been submitted to the journal Seismological Research Letters and to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Arabasz said the study of the mine collapse probably wouldn't be printed in the journal for several months, but it agreed to an early release because of the high level of public interest.
Following the disaster, MSHA and several congressional committees launched an investigation into what happened. It's unclear when MSHA's final report will be released.
Arabasz said federal investigators had access to information that his team of seismologists did not so might reach different conclusions.