An explosion at a coal mine in central Colombia has trapped ten workers underground and led to the deaths of at least 11 miners, reported Reuters.

The explosion, which took place on late 15 March 2023, was triggered due to accumulated gas in six adjoining coal mines in a rural area of Sutatausa, 75km north of Bogota.

According to the national mining agency, these coal mines have permits to operate.

Cundinamarca provincial governor Nicola Garcia was quoted by the news agency as saying to journalists: “People are trapped between 700m and 900m.”

A team of more than 100 rescue workers has started search missions and already rescued two people while seven people escaped unaided.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro said on Twitter said: “We are making every effort with the government of Cundinamarca to rescue the people who are trapped alive.

“A hug of solidarity for the victims and their families.”

The mining sector in Colombia comprises large-scale open-pit and underground projects run by multinational companies, in addition to hundreds of small and informal deposits.

The country is prone to frequent mine accidents, mostly at illegal operations or mines that lack sufficient security measures.

In February 2022, reports emerged that 11 people were killed due to an explosion at the Chapa underground coal mine in Boyaca province, Colombia.

The explosion was the result of methane gas accumulation at the Ingecolmaq SAS-operated mine.