Eleven dead and seven missing in the collapse of a mine in Colombia

Aerial image of the mining camp provided by the disaster management unit.

Photo: Deutsche Welle/National Unit For/Disaster/Risk/AFP / copyright

“In Abriaquí, Antioquia, a torrential avenue appeared in the early hours of the morning as a result of heavy rains, which affected a mine located in the area. The preliminary balance is 10 deceased, 7 missing and 10 injured”, reported in a tweet this Thursday (04.07.2022) the state National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD). In the Antioquia region, 37 municipalities are on alert for possible landslides.

Late Wednesday afternoon, mine workers were surprised by the sudden rise of a creek. The person in charge of the emergency care agency in the area, Jaime Gómez, warned that “the number of missing persons may increase.” In fact, the initial figure of ten deceased was raised shortly after by the local press to eleven. “Mine personnel are looking at the security cameras looking for more precise data,” explained the official, adding that at the time of the disaster, most of the workers had already “withdrawn from the site.” Quoted by the local press, he said that the tragedy could have been greater, but that most of the miners had already left the mine.

Located in a mountainous area, the El Porvenir gold mine operated legally, according to Abriaquí mayor Héctor Orrego. “The boys were at dinner, some were getting ready to rest, others were already leaving work when the torrential rain, the avalanche (arrived),” the authority told the Telantioquia channel. According to official reports, the alluvium destroyed the camp and part of the mine plant.

With Wednesday’s tragedy, there are already 17 deaths in Antioquia during the first rainy season of the year, which will last until June, according to local authorities. A few hours earlier, a 48-year-old woman had lost her life in a landslide caused by rainfall in the neighboring municipality of Barbosa.

“We have spent several weeks where the winter has been relentless… in a nearby village, Santa Teresa, there is another avalanche threat. We had the houses evacuated and we are hoping that nothing serious will happen”, lamented the mayor of Abriaquí, who gave a balance of 20 displaced families due to the risk of another disaster. According to Orrego, several rivers near the town are at risk of overflowing and the roads that lead to rural areas are affected by other landslides.

lgc (afp/spectator)