Colombia deficient in mine inspectors

Colombia's mining minister has gone to the scene of the country's latest mining disaster and says the nation has just 16 safety inspectors for 3,000 mines.

Officials suspect a methane gas buildup caused the blast at the La Preciosa coal mine that killed 21 workers Wednesday. Methane gas is also believed responsible for a 2007 disaster at the same mine that claimed 32 lives.

Mining Minister Carlos Rodado said in a radio interview Thursday that the latest disaster should prompt more investment in mine safety.

La Preciosa passed a government safety inspection in November.

The mine has been closed pending an investigation, which will determine whether it will reopen.

Colombia is South America's top coal exporter.