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Six die in gas leak at Spanish coal mine

29 October 2013

A gas leak at a coal mine in Northern Spain on October 28 has killed six men and injured five at the Santa Lucia mine near the town of Pola de Gordon, AFP reported. Bloomberg said there could be more workers trapped inside the mine. One of the injured is said to be in a critical condition.

The mine is owned by Spanish company Hullera Vasco Leonesa, which has faced liquidity problems and laid off 90% of its workforce in March for a six-month period. Coal production recently restarted and 116 were in the mine there at the time of the disaster, according to AFP.

A methane leak, possibly caused by a rockfall, spread so quickly that the six miners had no time to put on protective masks. The four-metre high, five-metre wide passage 700 metres underground was accessible via a cage lift.

Spanish mine unions called for a work stoppage in all of the country’s 40 mines for a 48-hour period on October 29. The CCOO and UGT unions decided to call the strike “as a symbol of respect, condolences and mourning for our workmates," they said in a joint statement.

The unions urged the National Commission for Mining Safety to investigate urgently and to take measures to prevent further such disasters. Hullera Vasco Leonesa said an investigation was underway into the cause of the accident.

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