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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 04:06 GMT
Colombia mine gas blast kills 32
Rescuers carry the body of a dead miner
Rescuers struggled for more than a day to reach the miners
A gas explosion at a coal mine in north-eastern Colombia has killed 32 miners, officials say.

All the bodies have been recovered and brought to the surface to be identified by the waiting relatives.

The blast occurred on Saturday at La Preciosa mine, about 580km (360 miles) north of the capital, Bogota.

President Alvaro Uribe visited the site to speak to the miners' families and assure them that the tragedy would be fully investigated.


The blast took place at the makeshift mine near the town of San Roque in Norte de Santander province.

It was caused by "some spark and the gas that was inside", provincial civil defence chief Fernando Rosales said.


Rescue crews struggled for more than a day to reach an area about 400m (1,300ft) underground where the miners were trapped.

They were continually driven back by gases and the unstable nature of the mine.

By the time they found the miners they were all dead, asphyxiated by methane gas.

President Uribe told the grieving relatives that the government would help them get social security benefits after the loss of their loved ones.

The authorities said they were also stepping up their supervision of Colombia's mines.

In 2001, a gas explosion in northern Colombia caused part of a coal mine to collapse, killing 15 workers underground.

In 1997, 16 miners were buried alive after a blast at coal mine in the same region in what was the country's worst mine disaster.

Rescuers at the scene of the explosion

Colombia mine blast kills 15
27 Apr 01 |  Americas

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