Twelve miners are feared dead after an explosion caused the flooding of a mine in northwestern Colombia.
Local police learned about the tragedy in Amaga, a town some 50 miles southwest of Medellin, through an emergency call informing that there had been explosions inside the La Cancha mine which caused a water container to burst leading to subsequent flooding.
In the wake of the disaster, dozens of relatives of the miners have gathered around the entrance since 5PM on Thursday.
Carlos Mario Usma, director of environmental management from Amaga, explained that initial inspection showed the water level reaching up to 250 meters inside the mine. In such cases, the structure of the mine makes it impossible to safeguard potential survivors.
“It is simply impossible that the miners could have survived.” added the expert.
Usma says the infrastructure is ready to start pumping water out and estimated that, if the process is done correctly, the rescue of the 12 miners could take up to 13 days. For now, the objective is to supply fresh air to the mine to counter the gas accumulated after the accident. Only this way can the rescue mission begin.
The Amaga mining zone has been in use for centuries. Coal mining is the main economic activity in the area, but there are also gravel and clay mines.
The last tragedy in this region occurred in June 2010 when 73 workers from Carbones San Fernando, the most technologically advanced mine in the area, died in an underground explosion.
According to the National Mining Agency (ANM), of the 30 emergencies registered in legal mines in Colombia in 2014, “82% have occurred in underground mining.”