1 missing after drilling rig topples near Sky Harbor

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One person is unaccounted for after a drilling rig toppled onto its side near Sky Harbor Airport Monday.

"It is believed that he was the operator of the device," Capt. Jake Van Hook of the Phoenix Fire Department told Arizona's Family.

Because of the precarious situation, he did not know how long it would take firefighters to safely get to that person.

"We do not have any information on the individual or his condition at this point," Van Hook said in an email to media outlets hours earlier. "Due to the equipment being on [its] side and the instability of the trench being worked on, it will take firefighters considerable time to determine if this will be a rescue or recovery."

Crews were unable to move the drill rig on Monday night and ended their efforts just before midnight. Van Hook said crews will bring in a larger crane that is expected to lift the drill rig. Workers are expected to start that operation between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Phoenix Fire Department officials have not released the name or condition of the construction worker.

[SLIDESHOW: Heavy machinery topples near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport]

The drilling rig fell over at about 9:30 Monday morning "as the construction being done was for the Sky Train guideway system," according to Van Hook.

Operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport are not affected by the work the Phoenix Fire Department is doing at the scene of the accident.

Authorities say the trench where the rig toppled is unstable and that has complicated the situation.

“In this situation, you’ve got the loose dirt. You have the unnatural position of this drilling rig," said Van Hook.

Heavy machinery like the rig that fell over can be used to drill wells, sample mineral deposits, rock, soil and groundwater, and install things like underground utilities or tunnels.

“We have this large piece of equipment over a hole that we don’t know how certain the depth or stability of that soil is around the equipment," said Van Hook.

Stay with Arizona's Family for more on this developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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