Colombian Coal Mine Blast: San Fernando Mine Explosion Kills Many
A Coal Mine Blast in Northwestern Colombia Has Killed At Least 16 With Many More Trapped and Feared Dead
An explosion at the San Fernando mine, believed to have been caused by a buildup of methane gas reports the AP, occurred 10 hours ago, but already 16 have been declared dead and at least 70 are still trapped inside and feared dead. There was about 70 to 80 miners below ground at the time because it occurred during a shift change.
The explosion collapsed part of the access tunnel to the San Fernand mine in Amaga town; this tunnel is over a mile long and in some parts is up to 500 feet deep.
President Alvaro Urbie said:
"It's very sad news," Uribe said in a statement, adding that the predicament of the trapped miners is "a very difficult fate."
This could be one of Colombia's worst mining accidents and rescue crews are still working to get the trapped miners released, but the progress is slow and it appears many are losing hope. MSNBC reports that relatives are waiting near the mine for any news as hearses carry bodies away from the explosion site.
Luz Amanda Pulido, who is a national disaster official, told a Colombian radio station that there is almost no chance of pulling anyone out alive now.
The rescue effort was temporarily halted when a new pocket of gas was found, but they have now been resumed and a 22-man army special forces team has been recruited to help reports the AP.
The mine reportedly passed a safety check last month and it is the same mine where nine workers were killed last August.