Explosion in central Colombian coal mines leaves 21 dead after build up of methane gas across multiple tunnels

Explosion in central Colombian coal mines leaves 21 dead after build up of methane gas across multiple tunnels

By abc.net.au
Friday 17/03/2023
The initial death toll was 11 people before the bodies of 10 missing miners were found. (AP Photo: Ivan Valencia)

Two days after a deadly blast killed 11 miners in adjacent Colombian coal mines, the bodies of another 10 miners who had been reported missing have been recovered.

The explosion, attributed to methane gas build-up in several adjoining coal mines, took place late on Tuesday, local time, in a rural area of Sutatausa, about 75 kilometres north of Bogota.

"I have been in communication with Governor Nicolas Garcia, who just informed me that, despite all the efforts of rescue teams, unfortunately 21 people lost their lives in the tragic accident in Sutatausa," President Gustavo Petro said on Twitter.

Mr Petro was elected partly on promises to shift the country from oil and coal, its two top exports, toward renewable energy generation.

He added that every workplace death was not only a failure of companies, but also of society and the government.

Álvaro Farfán — captain of the Cundinamarca fire department — told local media the explosion affected five mines interconnected by tunnels, generating a “chain" blast with a wide impact.

Activities at the mines have been suspended, the national mining agency said in its own tweet.

An investigation to establish the causes of the explosion will take place before a reopening can be considered.

Serious accidents are common at open pit and subterranean coal and gold mines in Colombia, mostly at illegal or informal operations and those without proper safety measures.

There were 117 accidents at mines in Colombia last year, killing 146 people.

The deadliest recent accident was in June 2010, when 73 people were killed in a mine explosion in the country's north-west.

Story By:Reuters/AP

Original Story Link:https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-17/colombia-coal-mine-explosion/102108580

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