Posted by News Express | 14 May 2014 | 2,907 times
At least 205 miners have been killed while hundreds of miners remain trapped underground a coal pit in Soma, 450km (280 miles) from Ankara, the Turkish capital, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has announced. More than 360 people have been evacuated from the site but hopes of finding more survivors are fading. More than 200 are still thought to be in the mine.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced three days of mourning for what is expected to become Turkey’s most deadly mining disaster.
Frantic relatives have gathered at the mine, waiting for news of loved ones.
As ambulances took away an increasing number of bodies, some of the bereaved wailed uncontrollably and were carried away by their families.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people had been inside the mine when an electrical fault triggered the blast.
He added that carbon monoxide poisoning had claimed many lives. Oxygen was being pumped into the mine to help those still trapped.
The electrical fault triggered a power cut, making the mine cages unusable. Those trapped are reported to be 2km (1.2 miles) below the surface and 4km from the mine entrance.
The blast happened at about 12:30 GMT on Tuesday.
TV footage overnight showed rescuers helping workers from the mine, their faces and hard-hats covered in soot and dust. Some were carried on stretchers to waiting ambulances.
But by mid-morning, reporters at the scene said only the dead were being recovered.
Police were keeping the crowds back to allow emergency services in and out of the area.
Coal mining is a major industry in the Soma area, helping to supply a nearby lignite-fired thermal power plant, but safety has long been a concern.
An MP with Turkey’s opposition CHP party has accused the government of rejecting a recent proposal for a parliamentary inquiry into mine accidents in Soma.
Turkey’s worst mining disaster was in 1992, when 270 miners were killed near Zonguldak, on the Black Sea.
•Photo, courtesy of BBC, shows a survivor of the Turkish mine disaster reuniting with his father.
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