Tags: Turkey | mining | accident

Turkey Coal Mine Explosion Kills 238, Hundreds Trapped

Image: Turkey Coal Mine Explosion Kills 238, Hundreds Trapped
A miner hugs a relative at the site of a coal mine explosion in Manisa province, Turkey on May 14.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 10:38 PM

The death toll in a coal mine disaster in western Turkey rose to 238 on Wednesday, with 80 more injured, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said.

"According to the first indications, 238 of our workers lost their lives and 80 were injured," Erdogan told a news conference after visiting the mine in Soma, about 480 kilometers (298 miles) southwest of Istanbul.

The toll came as rescue operations continued overnight following Tuesday's disaster when a total of 787 mineworkers were trapped inside the mine. Hundreds of people remained underground and four of those rescued were seriously inured, said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

"Time isn't in our favor," he said, warning that the toll was set to rise.

A security source told AFP that there were pockets in the mine, one of which was open so rescuers were able to reach the workers, but the second was blocked with workers trapped inside.

The explosion was believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 1230 GMT.

Hundreds of people gathered around the explosion site as rescuers brought out injured workers, who were coughing and struggling to breathe due to the dust.

Sena Isbiler, a mother of one of the miners, stood on top of piles of wood, craning her neck to see who was being led out of the mine.

"I have been waiting for my son since early afternoon," she told AFP.

"I haven't heard anything about him yet."

Fire officials were trying to pump clean air into the mine shaft for those who remained trapped some two kilometers (one mile) below the surface and four kilometers from the entrance.

Late in the evening injured people were still emerging from the collapsed mine — some walking, others being carried by rescue workers while being given oxygen.

Nearby, security officers tried to keep ambulance routes clear to ensure aid could reach the victims.

The mining company Soma Komur issued a statement calling the mine collapse a "tragic accident".

"Unfortunately, some of our workers have lost their lives in this tragic accident," the statement said.

"The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action," it added.

Turkey's ministry of labor and social security said the mine was last inspected on March 17 and was found to be compliant with safety regulations.

But Oktay Berrin, a miner, said workers were not protected underground.

"There is no security in this mine," he told AFP.

"The unions are just puppets and our management only cares about money."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office said he would arrive in Soma on Wednesday after cancelling a trip to Albania.

Speaking in Ankara, the leader expressed his "heartfelt condolences" to the families of those who died.

"Some of the workers have been rescued and I hope we will be able to rescue the others," Erdogan said.

© AFP 2017

   
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At least 201 people were killed and hundreds more remained trapped underground after an explosion and fire in a coal mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa, the energy minister said Wednesday.
Turkey, mining, accident
478
2014-38-13
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 10:38 PM
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