Search on for 10 trapped miners after Colombia blast kills 11

search on for 10 trapped miners after colombia blast kills 11

Bogot: Rescuers battled Wednesday to save ten workers trapped in a coal mine in central Colombia after an explosion that killed 11.

The explosion happened when accumulated gases in the mine were ignited by a spark from a worker’s tool, governor Nicolas Garcia of the Cundinamarca department told Blu Radio.

President Gustavo Petro called it “an unfortunate tragedy,” in a Twitter message.

“We are making every effort with the Cundinamarca regional government to rescue the trapped people alive,” the president said, offering “a hug of solidarity to the victims and their families.”

The ANM national mining agency said on Twitter Wednesday morning that two workers had been “rescued alive” from the mine at Sutatausa after the explosion late Tuesday.

It did not say how many remained underground, though Garcia said ten were still missing.

“We regret what happened and we stand in solidarity with the families of those affected,” the ANM said.

The explosion happened at a mine linked underground to five others.

Firefighters and rescue workers were at the mine Wednesday, where relatives desperately waited for news about their loved ones outside.

The miners were trapped some 900 meters (2,950 feet) underground, making access difficult for the more than 100 rescuers involved in the search, said Garcia.

“Every minute that passes means less oxygen,” he added.

Oil and coal are the main exports of Colombia, where mining accidents are frequent, especially at illegal digs.

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

In June, 15 people died at a coal mine in the municipality of Zulia, near the border with Venezuela, also due to an explosion of accumulated gases.

In 2021, the fourth-largest Latin American economy recorded 148 deaths in mining incidents.

Illegal mining and drug trafficking are the two main sources of income for Colombia’s armed groups that have waged a nearly six-decade conflict against security forces.