March 15 (UPI) — An explosion at a mine in Colombia has killed 11 people and trapped 17 others, according to the local governor.
The accident occurred Tuesday in Sutatausa, which is about 45 miles from the capital city of Bogota, as over 30 miners were underground.
Local officials said they believed the explosion was caused by gas accumulation and that at least four people who were underground at the time were able to escape. A fire official told local media that the explosion in one mine shaft caused a “chain reaction” in four others.
Colombian president Gustavo Petro lamented the tragedy in a statement on Twitter.
“What happened in the Sutatausa mine was an unfortunate tragedy, where 11 people died. We are making every effort with the Cundinamarca government to rescue the trapped people alive. A hug of solidarity to the victims and their families,” Petro tweeted Wednesday.
Cundinamarca governor Nicolas Garcia said local rescue crews were working to evacuate the trapped miners and put the number of miners rescued at six.
“The rescuers have already had contact with the dead, we have rescued six, but they have already reached where they are. The reality shows the every minute that passes is less oxygen time, since they are at a depth of 900 meters [2,952 feet],” said Garcia.
The Colombian government under Petro’s direction has been trying to break the deadlock in peace negotiations with the F.A.R.C., guerrilla group which has been in conflict with the official government for decades.