martes, febrero 15, 2011

Chasing Illegal Miners in Colombia

by Lorenzo Morales

An unfortunate series of events last week turned my last blog post -Colombia’s Readiness for the Mining Industry- into a warning that has now become reality.

On February 1, five miners were killed in an explosion at La Escondida coalmine, near Sutatausa, a small town north of Bogotá. According to official reports, the explosion was caused by the accumulation of gases—mainly methane—in the tunnels. Floresmiro Olaya, the only survivor of the explosion, said to a local newspaper that the mine lacked proper ventilation, the tunnels didn’t have shelters in case of a collapse (like the one that saved the 33 Chilean miners) and no inspection was conducted by authorities. The families of the killed miners announced they will sue the government for poorly enforcing safety measures in the mine.

This tragedy came only a week after another explosion killed 21 miners in a coalmine in Sardinata, Santander, in the northeast of Colombia. It, too, was apparently caused by a buildup of methane gas.

Click here to keep reading this story in Americas Quarterly as it ran.

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