Five people died in Utah mine accidents in 1988, a year during which the United States reported a record low number of mine fatalities, according to a report from the U.S. Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Three people died in Utah coal mining accidents last year, and two died in metal and non-metal mine accidents. The five fatalities were the most for any state in the six-state Rocky Mountain Region, which had a combined total of 11 mine fatalities in 1988.The 11 mine fatalities for the region were higher than the eight mine-related deaths in 1987 and the 10 deaths in 1986, the report said.

Nationwide, there were 100 fatalities last year, a decline from the 130 mining deaths in 1987, and the lowest annual number since records started being kept in 1911. The previous low number of deaths was 125 in 1986.

Of the 100 deaths nationally, 52 were in coal mines, a record low number and a decline from the 1987 total of 63. The other 48 fatalities were in metal and non-metal mines, one fewer than the previous low of 49 in 1986.

Administration officials said the main factor in decreasing the number of mine deaths was a sharp decline in underground coal mine fatalities due to falling roof rock. Historically, roof falls have been the single most frequent cause of fatal accidents in U.S. coal mines.

The dramatic decline in roof fall accidents may be partly due to adoption of automated temporary roof supports in underground coal mines. New MSHA regulations that became effective a year ago require the roof support systems using roof bolts mandatory in nearly all roof bolting operations.