Teams scramble to rescue 10 miners in Colombia

Rescue operations at coal mines in Colombia on Wednesday (March 15) focused on pulling out ten miners trapped after a gas explosion killed at least 11, authorities confirmed.

Rescue teams labored at six adjoining mines in the central region of Cundinamarca to find the ten missing miners as relatives and miners tried to keep up morale.

The mother of one of the trapped miners, Angela Pineda, said she was hoping her son was still alive.

“I don’t think so [my son is alive]. My heart says he isn’t. I wish but I don’t think so, I don’t think he’s in this world because, after a blast, that’s difficult. Only a miracle could. But I don’t think so,” Pineda said.

The gas explosion took place late Tuesday (March 14) in a rural area of Sutatausa, about 75 km north of Bogota. Two people have so far been rescued and seven were able to escape unaided.

“At around 8:15 p.m. we heard a strong blast and then it triggered as if it were a quake. At that moment we left, and we saw all the mine entries ejecting smoke and dust,” said Juan David Quiroz, a miner.

Serious accidents are common at open pit and subterranean coal and gold mines in Colombia, mostly at illegal or informal operations and those without proper safety measures.

The most serious accident in recent times occurred in June 2010, when 73 people were killed in a mine explosion in the northwest.