Turkish mine explosion death toll tops 200
Updated: 2014-05-14 07:21
An injured miner is carried into a hospital in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa May 13, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
ISTANBUL -- Rescuers struggled to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground early Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 201 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history.
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 carried 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 U.S. dollars) 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.