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Colombia mine explosion death toll rises to nine

EL ZULIA, COLOMBIA (AFP) – The death toll in an explosion in a coal mine in northeastern Colombia has risen to nine, while six workers remain unaccounted for, the National Mining Agency (ANM) said on Saturday.

The toll was up from the three dead reported earlier in the accident last week. The number of missing workers is down from eight earlier.

Some 70 rescuers were continuing a desperate search for victims, while anguished families waited nearby for news.

Officials said a buildup of gasses led to a fire, explosion and then the collapse of nearly 90 per cent of the mine in the town of El Zulia, near the border with Venezuela.

The mine, unlike many in the region that work outside the law, operated with state permits.

Last year, Colombia recorded 148 deaths in mining accidents.

Members of rescue teams carry the corpse of a miner in El Zulia, Norte de Santander department, Colombia. PHOTO: AFP