An explosion at an underground coal mine in Colombia’s central Boyaca department has claimed the lives of 12 miners.

The accident occurred on 24 August at the La Carbonera de Tópaga mine in Topaga, 220km north-east of Bogota.

The fire was caused due to the accumulation of methane gas and possibly coal dust, the state-run National Mining Agency (ANM) stated.

Initially, there were conflicting reports regarding the total number of miners involved in the accident.

Colombia’s mining ministry had stated that eight miners had died, four were missing and one was injured. Local media reported that 14 miners were involved in the accident, and Colombia’s Civil Defence stated that 12 were trapped in the mine and one was rescued.

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Colombian President Ivan Duque had confirmed in a tweet that the fire accident had killed 12 miners.

The rescue team had installed fans in the licensed Carbonera mine to funnel oxygen to the miners who were trapped 500m underground.

Colombian mines frequently face serious accidents, most of which occur due to poor safety standards.

Last year, a methane gas explosion at the Veracruz coal mine in Colombia’s central Cundinamarca department had killed at least 11 miners.

Following the accident, the state-run National Mining Agency ordered a suspension on all underground coal mining operations in Cucunuba.

Last week, the Colombian Mining Association stated that the value of the country’s mining exports recovered slightly in H1 2021 to reach $5.59bn, from $5.18bn recorded in H1 2020 due to an improved export value of gold that compensated for a drop in coal export value.

The value of exports of gold increased 39.8% to $1.5bn in H1 2021 while that of coal was reduced by 22.9% to $2.05bn amid low prices in the global market.