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Northern Mexico gas blast kills seven coal miners

26 July 2012

Seven people were killed in a gas explosion at a coal mine in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila on July 25. The miners, aged between 20 and 39, suffered severe burns and were crushed by falling rocks, according to Francisco Contreras Obregon, the head of the state’s civil defence force.

A local pressure group says 30 miners died in accidents in Coahuila coal mines in 2011
A local pressure group says 30 miners died in accidents in Coahuila coal mines in 2011

Rescue workers said they had been able to retrieve the bodies, all of whom came from the same family and worked in the mine in Muzquiz.

Methane gas explosions are one of the main dangers in small-scale mining. In 2006, 65 miners died in an explosion at a mine in Pasta de Conchos, also in Coahuila.

Police official Francisco Martinez said that "all indications are that the explosion was caused by a pocket of accumulated gas".

Juan Antonio Ibarra, of the Coahuila emergency services, said the explosion had happened some 75 metres underground. He said the rescue operation had to move slowly because of the need to ventilate the mine to prevent another explosion.

The Mexican labour ministry said the mine, which is owned by El Progreso mining company, had been fined over lax security in the past. The mine had been inspected 16 times since 2009 and access restrictions were enacted as recently as June after inspectors found it lacked emergency exits, the ministry added.

According to a pressure group founded by relatives of mining victims, 30 people died in accidents in Coahuila's coal mines in 2011. The group, Relatives of Pasta Concho, says at least 50,000 people work in Coahuila's coal mines, many of which are unregulated and lack safety measures.

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