73 miners killed in Colombia

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Colombia, Jun 26: Bodies of 73 miners, killed in one of the disastrous mining accidents in Colombia, were retrieved Friday Jun 25, nine days after a methane explosion rocked the San Fernando coal mine in Antioquia province.

Despite high concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide gas, rescue workers recovered the victims" bodies from the 2,500-metre-deep mine, said John Rendon, Antioquia province disaster coordinator .

The explosion occured in the mine near the town of Amaga in north-western Colombia on Jun 16. Normally 600 miners work in the mine, but the explosion occurred during shift change, fortunately sparing some lives. Initial reports had said 72 out of 79 miners, working underground at the time of the explosion, died in the powerful methane explosion in the mine.

Inspite of lacking a ventilation system for dangerous gases, a basic safety feature, the mine passed a safety inspection provincial just the week before the accident, said Governor Alfredo Ramos.

The mine hit by the explosion, however, was licensed and considered to be one of the safer operations. Colombian mines, including many that are illegal, are considered especially dangerous.

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