Colombia coal mine blast - 20 dead
Bogota - A possible methane gas explosion at a coal mine in northeast Colombia killed at least 20 workers on Wednesday and injured six more, 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 probably caused by methane gas.
Conditions for workers in Latin America's mines have improved radically in recent decades and the industry has helped fuel an economic boom in some nations, including Colombia. But there are still many accidents.
In November, nine workers were killed at two small coal mines in Colombia's Cundinamarca province.