Explosion in Sutatausa, Cundinamarca Mines Kill 21 Miners Despite Colombian Government Rescue Efforts
An fatal explosion has been reported at a coal mine in Sutatausa, Cundinamarca in the evening of Tuesday, March 14, with 21 miners confirmed dead by the Colombian government as they continue their efforts to save the remaining and investigate the potential cause of the explosion.
The explosion happened at around 8:15 pm that night, affecting three mines. Firefighters in Cundinamarca and officials working for the National Mining Agency and the Special Emergency Operations Unit came in and set up a base of operations near the area in order to survey the damage done at the scene.
Throughout the night and into the next day, the government began reporting multiple fatalities as fewer and fewer of the miners trapped in the mine were successfully rescued. The local authorities working the scene believe that over 30 miners were trapped inside when the explosion occurred. Among those who were present at the scene were the Red Cross, who provided psychological help to those close to the scene and those who survived.
The governor of Cundinamarca, Nicolás García Bustos, confirmed early the next day that over seven miners have been rescued from the area, numbers which the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) confirmed.
La @RCUNDINAMARCA nos reporta la explosión de tres minas en Sutatausa. Hasta el momento tenemos información de dos personas atrapadas en la mina. Siete mineros ya lograron salir. Dada la magnitud activamos un equipo de apoyo de Bomberos Cogua, Gachancipá y Chocontá.
— Nicolás García Bustos (@nicolasgarciab) March 15, 2023
“So far we have information on two people trapped in the mine. Seven miners have already made it out. Given the magnitude, we activated a support team of Cogua, Gachancipá and Chocontá firefighters,” García tweeted.
In a different interview with Blu Radio, García said that rescuers were battling against time to get the surviving miners out: “Rescuers have already had contact with the dead, we have rescued six, but they have already reached where they are. The reality shows that every minute that passes is less oxygen time, since they are 900 meters deep.”
Many residents in the area have expressed shock and fear over the explosion and the subsequent trapping of miners. 62-year-old man Marco Rincón, a former miner who lives nearby the mines, said that the explosion “sounded like three dynamite detonations, but then I found out it was something much worse.”
“Those mines go down a little more than a kilometer deep and they said that the combination of methane and coal dust could explode there at any second,” he continued. “I’ve never seen anything like it, I swear.”
By Thursday, President Gustavo Petro confirmed in a series of tweets that over 21 miners who had been trapped in the area are dead and nine survived, before using the incident to push for his clean energy transition plans.
Coal mining claims another 21 lives in Sutatausa. Labor and business reconversion plans are increasingly essential in coal mining areas. Each work fatality is not only a business failure, but also a social and governmental one.
The energy transition implies a strong component of labor and business reconversion. The development plan contemplates it but its application must begin now.
Moving to clean energy goes hand in hand with workers and businessmen today located in fossil energy.
Photo courtesy of Agencia Nacional de Minería (Twitter)