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Coal mine explosion kills 21 in Colombia

17 March 2023

The death toll from a coal mine explosion in Colombia has risen to 21 after 10 missing miners were found dead. The blast happened at a mine in the rural area of Sutatausa in central Colombia on March 14.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The explosion is believed to have been caused by gas accumulating in six adjoining coal mines. Seven miners managed to escape the mines while two others were rescued shortly after the blast, however authorities confirmed that 11 miners had been killed. Another 10 workers were initially trapped between 700 and 900 metres underground. Rescue efforts were made in the days following the incident, however President Gustavo Petro said on Twitter that he’d been informed on March 17 that all 10 miners had died.

The mines, which are located around 50 miles (80km) north of Bogota, were operating legally according to Colombia’s National Mining Agency. The agency said that all activities at the site had been stopped and an investigation would begin immediately.

Colombia has a history of safety incidents in both legally and illegally operated mines. According to the National Mining Agency, there were 117 safety incidents at Colombian miens in 2022 which killed 146 people. Among these incidents was an explosion in northeastern Colombia which killed 12 people in May. The incident at the La Mestiza coal mine on the Colombian border with Venezuela involved methane and coal dust.

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