| GEO World|
| 70 miners feared dead in Colombia explosion|
| Updated at: 0502 PST, Friday, June 18, 2010|
AMAGA: About 70 miners were feared dead in a Colombian coal mine after a fiery explosion ripped through underground shafts overnight during a change of shifts, authorities said Thursday.
Dozens of relatives gathered outside, anxious for news of missing loved ones.
Only a single miner was found alive, with burns on 30 percent of his body, Civil Defense chief Juan Carlos Posada said.
The official said the deaths of 17 miners had been confirmed, and 11 bodies identified and removed from the site near the city of Medellin.
"It's difficult for there to be survivors, because the explosion produced very high temperatures," he told AFP, adding that the bodies recovered so far had been burned.
A buildup of toxic gases hampered search and rescue efforts, but a team entered the mine Thursday afternoon and were able to make it 180 meters (yards) inside, he said.
Another 53 men were known to be in the mine when the explosion hit during an 11 pm (0400 GMT) shift change, apparently as a result of a gas buildup.