At least four people have died and between 65 and 95 are reported to be injured following an explosion at a mine in the Buriticá District in the west of Antioquia State, Columbia on Friday 25 April 2014. The mine is understood to be an unlicensed, informal operation, and it is thought that the explosion was caused by improper use of a locally made explosive called 'crazy dust', which is a frequent cause of fatalities in the region. A number of those injured are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, and it is feared that the death tole will rise, as there are thought to be miners still trapped in the mine, which is still partially flooded with the poisonous gas. Rescue workers with breathing equipment have entered the mine, but efforts are apparently being hampered by the remote and inaccessible location of the mine, which is making it hard to reach with the equipment necessary to pump air into the mine, particularly as it is peak rainy season at the moment.
A body being carried from the Buriticá mine. La Opinion.
The Buriticá District has considerable reserves of both gold and silver, and has a number of large mines operated by international companies. It also has a large informal sector, with many mines that have no legal standing, some of which operated by criminal gangs with links to the drugs trade or even by rebel groups; the mountainous nature of the area (which is in the Andes) and Columbia's long history of political instability making the area hard to police.
The approximate location of the Buriticá mine. Google Maps.
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