Three geologists have been killed in a mine collapse in northern Spain. The incident occurred at Cabanasses de Súria mine just before 9am local time on Thursday.
The mine is located in the town of Suria, around 80km north of Barcelona. It is operated by Iberpotash, a subsidiary of the Israel-based ICL group.
The three victims were inspecting the mine at a depth of 900m when it collapsed, killing all three. The collapse caused 240 mine workers to evacuate , before rescuers recovered the bodies over the following hours.
In a statement, the company has said that it is inspecting the integrity of the mine, with ICL adding that ten reference points in the mine had been reviewed that morning.
According to Catalonian minister of business and labour Roger Torrent, the mine had passed a regular safety inspection three weeks ago. Carlos Arnaldo, an employee at the mine, told Associated Press Newsthat the collapsed section was only built “a few days ago”.
The geologists were aged 28, 29 and 31. Two of the victims were postgraduate students at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the third was a doctorate at the University of Barcelona. One had started an internship at the mine only six days earlier.
Cabanasses de Súria mine is one of Western Europe’s largest potash mines. Demand for potash, used primarily as a fertiliser, has grown over the past year due to EU sanctions placed on key-supplier Belarus, over its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In 2013, two fatalities occurred at the mine due to a falling boulder. In 2020, two mine workers were struck by a rock and died at the company’s Vilafruns mine in Barcelona province. A further fatality occurred in a similar incident three weeks later, resulting in the mine’s closure.