On Thursday, Colombian authorities reported that the death toll from the explosion of the El Hoyo, Lucero, and La Esperanza coal mines in the Cundinamarca department rose from 11 to 21.
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Rescue teams found ten more bodies trapped inside the mines, located 74 kilometers north of Bogota in Sutatausa town and interconnected by tunnels and ventilation sites.
"After over 24 hours of work, the search and rescue operations ended: 21 deaths and nine people wounded who have already been discharged from the Ubate hospital," Cundinamarca Governor Nicolas Garcia stated.
About 30 workers were inside the mines at the time of the accident. "I felt like I was going to drown. Nothing was visible," said miner Joselito Rodriguez, who suffered lung damage.
Mining authorities still investigate the causes of the accident. The first hypothesis, however, indicates that a concentration of methane gas, which is highly flammable, caused the explosion.
Energy Minister Irene Velez ruled out that mines were illegal. "The company that worked the site, Mines and Minerals S.A., had the legal permits to do so," she acknowledged.
Mining accidents are common in Colombia. In 2022, the National Mining Agency registered 117 incidents of this type in the departments of Boyaca, Norte de Santander, Antioquia, and Cundinamarca.