Three geologists died in a tunnel collapse in a potash mine in Spain

Three Spanish geologists have died in a tunnel collapse deep inside a potash mine in northeastern Spain.


SURIA, Spain — Three Spanish geologists died Thursday in a tunnel collapse deep inside a potash mine in northeastern Spain, officials said.

The accident happened at the Cabanasses de Súria mine around 8 a.m. at a depth of 900 meters (nearly 3,000 feet) when the three victims were investigating “an internal area,” the mine operator said. It took several hours for rescuers to retrieve the bodies from the mine, located about 80 kilometers northwest of Barcelona.

The mine is operated by ICL Iberia, the Spanish subsidiary of the Tel Aviv-based ICL Group. The Spanish company confirmed that the three men are Spanish nationals, aged 28, 29 and 31, and experienced geologists.

According to ICL, around 240 workers were evacuated immediately after the incident.

“The company’s board of directors sincerely regrets the accident and sends its deepest condolences and offers of support to the families, colleagues and friends of the victims,” ​​ICL said in a statement.

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Two of the victims were also postgraduate students at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia’s engineering school in Manres. On Thursday afternoon, a minute’s silence was held at the university.

Carlos Arnaldo, a mine employee, said the collapsed section had only been built “a few days ago”. Regional business manager for Catalonia, Roger Torrent, stated that the mine underwent regular safety inspections. “The inspections were regular. The last one was three weeks ago. Torrent said.

Two workers died in similar circumstances in the same mine a decade ago.

Catalan regional president Pere Aragonès expressed his condolences to the families affected by the “tragic accident”. The regional government announced an investigation and a judicial inquiry was launched.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Energy, about 20,000 people work in the Spanish mining sector, a number that has halved over the past two decades.

In the southern European country, between 2016 and 2021, the last year for which statistics were available, an average of four mining workers died each year.

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O’Mahony reported from Madrid. Joseph Wilson contributed from Barcelona.