6:59 pm - Friday November 6, 2015

Turkey coal mine explosion: Death toll reaches 201, hundreds still trapped

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Istanbul: 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.

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.

“According to unofficial information, we have 157 dead and 75 injured workers,” Xinhua quoted Manisa Mayor Cengiz Ergun as saying in a live broadcast.
Turkey’s disaster and emergency management presidency said in a statement that the explosion occurred in a privately-owned mine in the Soma district of Turkey’s Manisa province.

The Soma Coal Mining Company, the mine’s operator, also issued a statement confirming casualties, but did not give the exact number of workers trapped in the mine.

The operator said that they inspected the mine’s facilities only two months ago and found nothing against regulations.

The explosion occurred at a power distribution unit two km below the surface, which caused the mine’s elevator to stop working.

Reports said a fire broke out after an explosion caused by an electric fault. Nearly 600 workers were inside the mine, and while workers were changing their shift, a transformer exploded. Only 280 of them were said to have escaped.

The latest incident is one of the numerous mining accidents that Turkey has had in recent years. Accidents, cave-ins, and explosions have claimed the lives of dozens of mine workers yearly.

Last December, four miners, who were reportedly working at an unlicensed coal mine for 60 Turkish Liras (about $30) were killed in the Zonguldak province after an accident.

According to the Chamber of Mining Engineers of Turkey, 80 accidents took place in Turkish mines in 2012, which killed 61 people and injured 91 others.

Since 1955, at least 3,053 Turks have been killed and 326,208 others injured in mine accidents in the country.

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