An explosion at a coal mine in Colombia’s central Cundinamarca department has claimed the lives of at least 11 miners.

The incident took place at the Veracruz coal mine, which is a legal operation in the Cucunubá municipality of Colombia.

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According to the Governor of Cundinamarca, Nicolas Garcia, the explosion was due to the accumulation of gases where 22 miners were working at the time of the incident.

The victims were miners who were working despite the health emergency declared by the Colombian government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The state-run National Mining Agency announced a halt to all underground coal mining operations in Cucunuba following the accident.

According to local media, a similar accident took place on 3 April at the Montgomery coal mine in Colombia’s San Cayetano municipality, where six miners were declared dead following an unintended blast.

Most Colombians are quarantined by government-mandated measures, but mining operations have been excluded from those measures.

As of 5 April, Colombia registered about 1,400 confirmed cases of people infected with Covid-19, with a total of 35 deaths due to the virus.

In November last year, a gas explosion that occurred inside a coal mine in northern China claimed the lives of 15 miners and left another nine injured.

Last May, Zimbabwean officials confirmed that an explosion that hit the Jumbo gold mine in the northern province of Mazowe, killed eight artisanal miners and injured a further two.

In July 2017, an illegal gold mine in central Colombia killed six security contractors who were working for Continental Gold.