Colombian rescuers recovered the bodies of the 32 miners killed

A coal mine exploded in northeast Colombia. Officials do not rule out sabotage.

Colombian rescuers have recovered 31 bodies from a coal mine in the northeast of the country where an explosion killed 32 miners on Saturday, according to official reports. The remaining miner had managed to escape after the blast but died at a hospital in Cucuta, capital of Norte de Santander.

Battling dangerously high levels of methane gas experts made big efforts to finish the operation which was hampered on Sunday by toxic gases in the makeshift mine.

Fernando Rosales, head of the civil defence corps said that this team had recovered “the bodies of the 31 miners trapped in the mine”, after Saturday’s explosion. According to Mr. Rosales, the explosion was caused by "some spark and the gas that was inside", but Colombian officials did not rule out sabotage as the cause of the explosion.

President Alvaro Uribe ordered an investigation into the explosion at the small, privately owned mine producing coal for domestic consumption. A similar accident occurred in El Zulia when a coal mine explosion killed 15 people in 2001.

Norte de Santander is an area disputed by leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups who often battle each other for control of the routes across the border with Venezuela.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov