Turkey mine explosion leaves 200 trapped underground
Rescue operation under way as blast and fire leave hundreds beneath surface in town of Soma
Associated Press in Ankara
theguardian.com, Tuesday 13 May 2014 12.32 EDT
More than 200 people are trapped underground after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey that has killed one miner, officials said.
Mehmet Bahattin Atci, a regional administrator, said 20 people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma, in the province of Manisa, about 155 miles (250 km) south of Istanbul. One later died in hospital.
He said the explosion was caused by a power distribution unit. Between 200 – 300 more workers are still inside the mine. "Rescue efforts are underway," Atci told reporters.
The broadcaster NTV said the accident occurred about 2km deep inside the mine.
Tamer Kucukgencay, the head of a mining trade union for the region, told the state-run Anadolu news agency that fresh air was being pumped into the mine.
Journalists were being kept away from the site but a witness told the TV station that ambulances were entering and leaving the area.
Rescue teams from neighboring areas were being sent and Turkey's energy minister, Taner Yildiz, was on his way to oversee the operation, NTV reported.
Mining accidents are common in Turkey, which is plagued by poor safety conditions. Turkey's worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.