Colombia: Race against time to rescue 10 miners trapped after an accidental explosion

In Colombia, a race against time has begun to rescue 10 miners trapped after an accidental explosion at a coal mine in the Cundinamarca department, two hours from the capital Bogota.

The accident occurred on Tuesday evening in the municipality of Sutatousa when an “accumulation” of gas came into contact with a “spark generated by a pickaxe” of a worker, causing an explosion in several connected legal mines, explained to the media Blue Radio the governor of the department, Nicolás García .

“Eleven people have been found dead and we are continuing the search to rescue ten (people) who are trapped,” he said. involved in the rescue”.

– depth and oxygen –

According to the governor, the trapped miners are 900 meters deep, which makes rescue operations difficult for a hundred rescuers. “Every minute that passes is less time for oxygen” and finding them alive would be “quite difficult”, he estimated.

The National Mining Agency (ANM) said on Twitter that two miners were “rescued alive” shortly after the explosion.

Pictures broadcast by local media showed firefighters and rescue workers working at the entrances to the mines. Nearby, a handful of people await information about their relatives.

Rescue workers work to pull out trapped miners alive after an explosion at a coal mine in the Cundinamarca department of Colombia, March 14, 2023, which killed at least eleven people.

President Gustavo Petro tweeted on Wednesday morning, “A sad tragedy has occurred at the Sutausa mine, where 11 people have died. We are doing everything we can with the government of Cundinamarca to rescue those trapped.” Solidarity with the victims and their families.”

Accidents in mines, often caused by accumulation of gas, are frequent in Colombia, especially in the many illegal mining operations in the country.

In August, nine miners were rescued in the same division they worked in after the collapse of an illegal coal mine.

In June, 15 people died in a coal mine in Zulia municipality, near the Venezuelan border.

In 2021, Latin America’s fourth largest economy is set to record 148 deaths in mining accidents.

Colombia’s main export products are petroleum and legal mining.

But illegal mining, along with drug trafficking, are the two main sources of income for various Colombian armed groups.

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