Breaking News: Bogota: Five Killed In Latest Mine Explosion

1 Feb

A gas explosion ripped through a mine in Colombia Tuesday, killing five workers and injuring a sixth, days after the government promised a safety overhaul following a string of similar tragedies.

Miner Luis Arnulfo Marin rests after retrieving the corpses of his colleagues from …More Enlarge photo

The methane blast occurred at around 1245 GMT at La Escondida coal mine in the central province of Cundinamarca, a spokesman from the state Institute of Geology and Mining told AFP.

The sixth miner was being treated in hospital, the spokesman said, but the extent of his injuries was not immediately known. No other workers were in the mine at the time of the blast, the official added.

President Juan Manuel Santos cut short a trip to Europe last week to be at the side of the victims of an earlier blast last Wednesday that left 21 workers dead at a coal mine in the northeast of the country.

Santos, before returning from the summit in Switzerland, described the accident as a tragedy that should never have happened.

“We must massively reinforce mine safety measures,” he told reporters. “For that reason, when I return, I am going to give instructions for a detailed review of all the regulations and their enforcement.”

Mines Minister Carlos Rodado pointed to a glaring lack of resources and said the government must radically rethink its oversight of the industry.

“We need to bolster human, technical and financial resources because we only have 16 people to monitor the 3,000 thousand mines currently being operated and the 3,000 others in exploration,” Rodado said.

More than 80 mining-related accidents killed 173 people last year in Colombia, the world’s fifth largest exporter of coal and a big producer of gold, oil and gas.

Colombia produced 75 million tonnes of coal last year, according to government figures, ranking it after Indonesia, Australia, Russia and South Africa.

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