An injured miner is carried into a hospital in Soma, a
district in Turkey's western province of Manisa.
An explosion followed by a fire in a coal mine in western
Turkey has killed 157 miners and trapped hundreds more, a
provincial mayor said, in what appeared to be the country's
worst mining accident in years.
Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine to try to keep
those still trapped by the blaze alive as thousands of family
members and fellow workers, clamouring for information,
gathered outside the town's hospital, held back behind police
The blast in the power unit of the mine in Soma, around 120
km northeast of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, triggered
an electricity outage, making the elevators unusable and
leaving hundreds of miners stranded underground.
It was not immediately clear if the fire had been isolated.
Cengiz Ergun, mayor of Manisa province where Soma is located,
said nearly 600 workers were underground at the time of the
explosion. Citing health officials at the entrance to the
mine, he told broadcaster CNN Turk that 157 miners had died.
Government officials told Reuters 104 people had been
confirmed dead and 54 injured, but said the toll was likely
to rise. Turkey's disaster response agency, AFAD, had earlier
said 17 miners were killed.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a day trip to
Albania, scheduled for Wednesday, and would instead go to the
site of the disaster, sources in his office said.
"Rescue efforts for our brothers in the mine are ongoing ...
God willing, in the coming hours, I hope to receive uplifting
news," Erdogan said during a speech at a ceremony in the
capital Ankara, before the extent of the disaster became
Because the explosion took place during a change in shifts,
there was uncertainty over the exact number of miners still
inside, but AFAD put the figure at more than 200.
"Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped into the mine. This is the
most important thing for our workers down there," Energy
Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters, on his way to Manisa.
"We are facing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning
... We have to get our friends out of there swiftly."
At least eight people were brought out alive. Television
footage showed rescued miners reunited with tearful
But government officials feared the death toll might be on
the rise. "Unfortunately, we could see a grimmer picture.
Looks like it will be a very tough night. The death toll may
rise but the rescue teams are working hard," one official
Turkey's worst mining accident was in 1992, when a gas
explosion killed 263 workers in the Black Sea province of
Zonguldak. The country has a poor health and safety record in
mining, particularly coal.
In May 2010, another gas explosion killed 30 miners, again in