At least 11 people died and ten more remained trapped following a coal mine explosion in central Colombia, the governor of Cundinamarca department said on Wednesday.

The accident in the municipality of Sutatausa occurred due to an accumulation of gases that exploded after a worker’s tool caused a spark, Governor Nicolas Garcia told Blu Radio.

The explosion happened late Tuesday night at a series of legal mines that are linked.

Firefighters and rescue workers could be seen at the entrances to the mines in images from local media, with a handful of relatives awaiting information about their loved ones.

The miners were trapped 900 meters (2,950 feet) underground, making access difficult for the more than 100 rescuers working on the search, Garcia said.

“Every minute that passes means less oxygen,” he said.

Oil and coal are the main exports of Colombia, where mining accidents are frequent.

In August, nine miners were rescued from a collapsed illegal coal mine in the central Cundinamarca department.

In 2021, the fourth-largest Latin American economy recorded 148 deaths in mining incidents.

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