Soma (Turkey) – Rescuers struggled to reach more than 100 miners trapped Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey in what one official says is likely to be the country’s deadliest mining disaster ever.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference Wednesday that 238 miners were killed.
About 120 workers were still thought to be trapped in the mine, Erdogan said.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma at the time of the explosion, and 363 of them had been rescued so far.At least 80 miners were injured, including four who were in serious condition, according to Yildiz, who spoke with Reuters early Wednesday.
The accident occurred when the workers were preparing for a shift change, officials said, which likely raised the casualty toll because there were more miners inside the mine than usual.
The minister said the fire was still blazing inside the mine, 18 hours after the blast. The air around the mine was still smoky.The deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, Yildiz said.
A rescued miner who emerged alive was whisked away on a stretcher to the cheers of onlookers.
Read more and watch video HERE