Nine miners dead in El Zulia mine blast

An aerial view of the entrance to the coal mine in El Zulia, Norte de Santander Department on 1 June
An aerial view of the entrance to the coal mine in El Zulia

Nine coal miners have died and six remain trapped underground after an explosion in a coal mine in Colombia, the National Mining Agency (ANM) said.

The explosion near the northern town of El Zulia on Monday was caused by a build-up of gas which caused a fire and the collapse of a tunnel, trapping the miners, officials said.

The surviving miners have been trapped underground for six days.

Families have been waiting desperately for news as rescue efforts continue.

Rescue work was initially hampered by the build-up of gas as well as heavy rains, but some 70 rescuers are now working against the clock to find the remaining miners, AFP reports.

Engineers have also been working to ventilate the shafts, officials said.

Unlike many Colombian mines, this one was operating legally. It had been closed in 2021 because of a high concentration of gases, but had been given the go-ahead to reopen on 19 May, according to regional mining secretary Jhon Olivares.

Mining accidents are not uncommon in Colombia, with 148 deaths recorded in 2021.

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