Five Colombian Miners Die in Blast

BOGOTA—Five miners were killed in an explosion at a coal mine, marking the second deadly mining disaster in Colombia in less than a week.

The methane blast occurred early Tuesday at the La Escondida mine near the town of Sutatausa, north of Bogota in the state of Cundinamarca, according to a statement on the website of the government’s mining-oversight institute known as Ingeominas.

“According to preliminary information, there was an explosion in the mine, apparently due to methane gas, which left five people killed at the moment,” the statement said.

The tragedy comes after an explosion at another coal mine in northeastern Colombia last Wednesday took the lives of 21 miners. It, too, was apparently caused by a buildup of methane gas.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos said after last week’s tragedy that the number of mining-related deaths in Colombia is “totally unacceptable” and promised a full review of regulations.

Some 100 miners were killed in accidents in Colombia last year. Mr. Santos criticized the fact that there are only 16 government officials to do safety checks on 6,000 mines throughout Colombia, and said that will change.

Colombia ranks as one of the world’s top coal exporters and its production destined for abroad is controlled by foreign companies including Alabama-based Drummond Co., Glencore International AG, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Xstrata PLC, which operate in open-pit coal mines. Small locally owned mining firms, meanwhile, continue to produce in underground mines, most of which have poor safety records.


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