Colombia: Four dead, 19 missing after several mine explosions in the centre of the country

File – Rescue work in a mine in Colombia (file image). – —/Gobernacion Norte de Santand / DPA

At least four people have died and 19 others remain missing after explosions in five mines in the municipality of Sutatausa, in Cundinamarca, in the center of Colombia.

The captain of the Cundinamarca Fire Department, Álvaro Farfán, explained that the first explosion was caused by an accumulation of gases, causing »a chain reaction» which affected four other mines, according to local media reports.

These mines were full of methane gas and, in addition, coal dust. These five mines are connected to each other and there was a chain reaction. One mine exploded and then the other four mines exploded,» he explained.

There were 30 miners, seven of them managed to get out by their own means, but unfortunately we have four victims. We are still looking for 19 people,» said Captain Farfan. Later, the emergency teams managed to rescue one more person four hours after the events began.

The first explosion took place at 8:15 p.m. local time on Tuesday in the El Hoyo coal mine, which is connected to the other four mines. Firefighting teams from the surrounding municipalities, such as Ubaté, Cogua, Gachancipá and Chocontá, were immediately dispatched to the area.