Miners are trapped in a Colombian mine. (Getty Images)
- Seven miners were trapped in a coal mine in Colombia after an explosion in one of its tunnels.
- The mines and energy ministry registered 1 262 such accidents between 2011 and May 2022.
- A buildup of gases is the most common cause of mining accidents in the country.
Seven miners were trapped inside a coal mine in central Colombia following an overnight explosion in one of its tunnels, officials said Thursday.
Authorities are investigating what caused the explosion at around 01:00 in the Cucunuba municipality in Cundinamarca, around 90km north of the capital Bogota.
Videos shared on social media showed smoke billowing from a sinkhole in the dead of night while people dressed in civilian clothes carrying torches approached carefully.
“For now, four miners have been rescued alive and were evaluated and taken to various health centers and we are continuing the search and rescue process for the remaining seven miners,” Alvaro Farfan, fire captain for the Cundinamarca department, told reporters.
Cundinamarca Governor Nicolas Garcia said the explosion affected the interconnected El Roble and El Manto mines.
The department is a hotbed of illegal mining, although authorities have not said whether these two mines were legal.
Mining tragedies are frequent in Colombia, particularly in illegal mines in Cundinamarca and other parts of the country’s center and northeast.
Mines and Energy Minister Irene Velez said on Twitter that rescue bodies were working in the area and “continuing their attempts to localise” the trapped miners.
The mines and energy ministry registered 1 262 such accidents between 2011 and May 2022 that left an average of more than 100 people dead per year.
A buildup of gases is the most common cause of mining accidents in the country, which is Latin America’s largest coal producer.
An explosion in mid-March in Sutatausa municipality, also in Cundinamarca, left 21 people dead and was one of the worst such tragedies in Colombia in recent years.