Colombia officials say 21 workers killed in mine explosion

Miners were trapped 900 metres underground

Firefighters arrive at the scene of an explosion at a coal mine in Sutatausa municipality, Colombia. AFP
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Twenty-one workers have been found dead after a coal mine collapsed in central Colombia on Tuesday.

“Sadly, 21 people lost their lives in this tragic accident in Sutatausa”, a municipality in Cundinamarca department, Colombian President Gustavo Petro said.

The accident was caused by an accumulation of gases that exploded after a worker's tool caused a spark.

Rescuers found 11 bodies in the mine on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Cundinamarca Governor Nicolas Garcia said the search was over, writing on Twitter: “Unfortunately, there is no longer anyone alive. We are heart-broken.”

Rescuers had searched for the miners across six mines. Officials are now investigating if there was proper airflow in the mines.

Joselito Rodriguez, who escaped the explosion, told AFP he thought was “going to drown”.

“You couldn't see anything,” he added.

Firefighters and rescue workers could be seen at entrances to the mines in images from local media, with relatives awaiting information about their loved ones.

Oil and coal are the main exports of Colombia, where mining accidents are frequent.

In August, nine miners were rescued from a collapsed illegal coal mine in central Cundinamarca department.

In 2021, the country recorded 148 deaths from mining incidents.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 5:02 PM