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At least 11 dead in Colombia coal mine blast

A powerful explosion in a coal mine in central Colombia that affected four other mines linked by tunnels has killed at least 11 people and left 10 others missing.

President Gustavo Petro said on Twitter that rescuers were making every effort to reach the trapped miners.

The blast, which was attributed to a build up of methane gas, took place on Tuesday night in the municipality of Sutatausa in the Cundinamarca department.

Cundinamarca Governor Nicolas Garcia Bustos initially reported four deaths with two people recovered alive and 17 trapped in the mine.

But Alvaro Farfan, captain of the Cundinamarca fire department, told local media the explosion affected five mines interconnected by tunnels, generating a "chain" blast with a wider impact.

Petro later raised the death toll to 11. Energy and Mines Minister Irene Velez said 10 people were still trapped.

The blast occurred when the highly explosive methane gas ignited, Velez said.

Explosions and landslides are common in Colombia's coal mines.