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Colombia coal mine blast kills 20

An explosion at a coal mine in northeast Colombia killed at least 20 workers on Wednesday and injured six more after gas ignited and caused a cave-in, officials said.

world Updated: Jan 27, 2011 07:48 IST

An explosion at a coal mine in northeast Colombia killed at least 20 workers on Wednesday and injured six more after gas ignited and caused a cave-in, officials said.

The explosion was the latest in a series of mine accidents in South America, including a collapse in Chile in August that buried 33 workers until they were rescued. Last June, a blast killed around 70 miners in Colombia.

"They've just told me there are 20 dead and six wounded," said Marisa Fernandez of the Ingeominas mining regulator in Norte de Santander province, where the accident happened.

She told Reuters by telephone the blast, which happened in the La Preciosa mine in the Sardinata municipality in Norte de Santander, was likely caused by methane gas.

In November, nine workers were killed at two small coal mines in Colombia's Cundinamarca province.