A US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman told ILN late Wednesday that the victim, identified by local media as 32-year-old Jeremy Perkins of Kentucky, was working at Kopper Glo Mining’s Double Mountain site when an accident occurred at about 6am.
MSHA did not release more details about the event itself, but confirmed that a verbal 103(j) order was issued to halt production and investigators were on scene.
Claiborne County Sheriff's Office detective Bob Morelock told regional paper the News Sentinel that the worker was digging when the roof caved in.
“There were several co-workers with him and they were able to get him out,” he said, adding that Perkins was pronounced dead at Claiborne County Hospital in nearby Tazewell.
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development communications director Jeff Hentschel confirmed the death was the first in the state in underground coal mining in recent memory.
“I was told somewhere in [the] neighborhood of four or five fatalities have occurred in the last 10 years, and half involved working on equipment outside mines," he told the paper.
“Even though it is a dangerous occupation, it is not often we see a fatal accident."
Kopper Glo Fuel and affiliate Kopper Glo Mining are owned by Quintana Kopper Glo Investment.
According to federal data, Kopper Glo has operated the mine since 2010. It produced 213,000 tons of coal last year under about 106,000 man hours.