Colombia gold mine blast kills 4, injures 81

BOGOTA (AFP) - An explosion in a Colombian mine has killed at least four people and injured 81 others, the authorities said on Saturday.

The blast at the facility in the north-western town of Buritica generated large amounts of toxic gas, local disaster relief official Cesar Hernandez told reporters.

Mr Hernandez said search and rescue crews recovered the bodies of four miners, who died after inhaling the poisonous fumes.

Of the injured, 65 were treated at the scene while 16 were taken to area hospitals.

The authorities have launched an investigation into the incident, which comes several weeks after the mine received an eviction order due to safety lapses and unstable ground conditions.

A recent report by the National Mining Agency found there were 66 mining-related emergencies between January and September 2013 that claimed 71 lives and injured 51.

Fifty-six percent of Colombia's mines have no operating license.