The bodies of six miners trapped in a coal mine in Santander were recovered Wednesday; nine other miners were rescued.
An explosion Tuesday in the La Orquídea mine in El Zulia more than 3,000 meters underground left fifteen people trapped. The collection of the six bodies took almost 18 hours. The work of the rescue team was complicated by the depth at which they were trapped and the high concentration of methane gas.
Among those killed was the engineer in chief of the mine, which along with the other bodies was taken to the morgue in El Zulia, located 20 minutes outside of Cucuta, the department capital, reported newspaper El Tiempo.
Members of the Red Cross, the Civil Defense, and volunteers from the Colombian Institute of Mining and Geology (Ingeominas) worked overnight to try to free the six miners.
Officials from the Office of Disaster Prevention in Norte de Santander had warned that the atmosphere inside the mine, heavily contaminated by high levels of methane gas and carbon monoxide, would hinder the survival of those trapped.
So far the cause of the explosion is unknown, and Ingeominas will be conducting an investigation to determine what happened.
This accident has had the greatest number of people involved so far this year in Norte de Santander. The greatest mining tragedy in the region occured on 4 February 2007, when 32 miners died after an explosion at the San Roque mine in Sardinata, located less than three hours from Cucuta.