In an interview with La Republica, the mine’s manager Juan Ricardo Montalvo said that a government-led investigation has been opened, to identify what caused the explosion, which has trapped between 50 and 70 miners.
Montalvo said he has “no idea” what caused the accident and that he is “the person most interested in knowing.”
When questioned about allegations that the mine was not equipped with the correct safety equipment such as gas detectors and extractor fans, the manager said, “This is true, but the rules do not require it … We have fifteen safety inspectors who patrol the mine permanently and take measurements every ten to fifteen minutes.”
Montalvo explained that the San Fernando mine is currently closed, whilst inspectors have fifteen days to complete a full inspection of the site.
The number of bodies recovered from the mine has reached 38, and an estimated 50 to 70 people remain trapped.
According to authorities, conditions within the mine are favorable to continue rescue work to evacuate the remaining miners, although it is most likely, El Tiempo reported, that the miners suffocated due to toxic gases released by the explosion.
On Sunday Uribe met with family members of the deceased and trapped miners and pledged to provide for them. According to Uribe, local and national authorities have guaranteed the families the full support of the government, ensuring that they continue to receive salary payments and health care benefits.
This is the second accident at the San Fernando mine in three years. A similar incident occurred in 2008 with five people trapped, one of whom died.