The explosion affected the El Hoyo, Lucero and La Esperanza mines, where dozens of miners worked in several underground galleries from which coal is extracted manually.
These are “three mines that are connected, that are part of a complex,” as explained by the director of the Risk and Disaster Management Unit (UGRD), Javier Pava, who is awaiting reports from other authorities on the possible causes and if they had the environmental inspections up to date.
Joselito Rodríguez, a 33-year-old survivor, told AFP the moment of the explosion: “I was working normally when I felt the bang (rumble)”, then “I felt like I was going to drown and I couldn’t see anything”.
“Thank God we got out well, but others are already lifeless,” he added in a telephone conversation, shortly after leaving a hospital where he received treatment for lung problems.
Rodríguez assures that men under 40 years of age worked in the mines.
How are mining conditions in Colombia?
In Colombia there are numerous open and underground gold and coal mines in which accidents frequently occur because some operations are illegal or do not adopt sufficient safety measures.
This has led to several accidents with fatalities over the past decades.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy recorded more than 1,600 such accidents from 2011 to May 2022, leaving an average of 103 deaths per year.