Seven dead after coal mine collapse in Colombia

Coal mining in Boyacá, Colombia. (Reference image by Petruss, Wikimedia Commons.)

Colombia’s National Mining Agency (ANM) issued a communiqué informing about the passing of seven miners that were trapped inside a coal mine that collapsed last Thursday near the town of Cucunubá, in the central Cundinamarca department.

The accident has been attributed to a methane gas explosion.

Following two days of uninterrupted work, the Agency’s Mine Safety and Rescue Group was able to retrieve all the bodies by Saturday afternoon. Personnel from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Fire Department, the Red Cross, Civil Defense, as well as the Departmental Risk Unit, supported the rescue efforts.

“In the first report made by the ANM Mining Rescue team, we knew that 11 people were involved in the accident. Four of them were rescued and immediately transferred to a health center. Three people died when the accident took place and four remained trapped. Unfortunately, the latter were found dead. The retrieval of the last two bodies was completed on Saturday,” the media statement reads.

The official letter also notes that back in December, the ANM ordered the closure of most of the Cucunubá mines due to unsafe working conditions. 

“Mine title holders ought to invest additional resources to guarantee the safety of their workers,”  Álvaro Pardo, president of the Mining Agency, said in the statement. “They also have to comply with suspension and closure orders issued by this office.”

Pardo emphasized that the safety of mine workers is the responsibility of the mine title holders and that the ANM is only responsible for the monitoring and control of legal and contractual obligations.

“The National Mining Agency deeply regrets what happened, expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and reaffirms its commitment to implement more rigorous monitoring systems when it comes to the protocols that mining companies must implement to guarantee the safety of their workers,” Pardo said.