Colombia Today: Mine explosion kills at least 11 people, Pablo Escobar’s hippos, Viva Air accused of fraud

These are the trending news headlines in Colombia on Thursday March 16, 2023

– In central Colombia, rescuers and miners worked against the clock to save ten workers trapped in a coal mine after an explosion killed at least 11 people. With oxygen running low, family members of the trapped miners waited outside the mine, hoping for good news. Over 100 rescuers were involved in the search, with Governor Nicolas Garcia calling it a “difficult” operation. The blast happened when accumulated gases in the mine were ignited by a spark from a worker’s tool. Mining accidents are common in Colombia, especially at illegal digs, with poor working conditions and a lack of protective gear contributing to the problem. At least 130,000 people in Colombia make a legal living from mining.


– Colombia is grappling with a unique problem: what to do with Pablo Escobar’s hippo population? The drug lord imported four hippos to his zoo in the 1980s, but since his death in 1993, the feral herd has grown to about 80. Efforts to control their population have failed, and they have become a source of division and even danger for locals. Now, Colombia is considering a new strategy: shipping the hippos abroad. The plan has received criticism from some animal rights activists, but officials argue that it may be the only viable solution to the escalating problem.


Colombia’s low-cost airline Viva Air has been accused of fraud by the country’s transport minister, Guillermo Reyes, who filed a criminal complaint alleging that flight cancellations caused damages of at least $57.3 million. Viva Air, which suspended operations in February, is currently undergoing restructuring due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic, fuel prices, and depreciation of the Colombian peso. The airline is awaiting a ruling on a proposed merger with Avianca, and Reyes alleges that it committed aggravated mass fraud and caused a disturbance of public transport. The superintendency of transportation is already investigating the airline over the cancellations.

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