100s remain trapped in mine blast, 201 dead

2014-05-14 06:28
Miners carry a rescued friend after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey. (AP,IHA)

Miners carry a rescued friend after an explosion and fire at a coal mine killed at least 17 miners and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, in Soma, in western Turkey. (AP,IHA)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Soma - At least 201 people were killed and hundreds more remained trapped underground after an explosion at a coal mine in western Turkey, the government said on Wednesday, warning that rescue efforts faced a race against time.

The toll has risen rapidly since Tuesday's disaster in the province of Manisa, when a total of 787 mineworkers became trapped inside the mine.

Rescue operations continued overnight for the hundreds of people still underground. Of those rescued alive, 80 were injured, four of them seriously, said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

"We fear the number could rise even further because those who came to help out may be among the injured and affected by the smoke," he told reporters.

"As the time passes, we are very quickly heading to an unfavourable outcome," he added.

Earlier a security source told AFP that there were pockets in the mine, one of which was open so rescuers were able to reach the workers, but the second was blocked with workers trapped inside.

The explosion was believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 12:30 GMT on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people gathered around the explosion site as rescuers brought out injured workers, who were coughing and struggling to breathe due to the dust.

Sena Isbiler, a mother of one of the miners, stood on top of piles of wood, craning her neck to see who was being led out of the mine.

"I have been waiting for my son since early afternoon," she told AFP.

"I haven't heard anything about him yet."

Arum Unzar, a colleague of the missing miners said he had lost a friend previously "but this is enormous."

"All the victims are our friends," he said as he wept.

"We are a family and today that family is devastated. We have had very little news and when it does come it's very bad," he added.

Fire officials were trying to pump clean air into the mine shaft for those who remained trapped some two kilometres (one mile) below the surface and four kilometres from the entrance.

Late on Tuesday evening injured people were still emerging from the collapsed mine -- some walking, others being carried by rescue workers while being given oxygen.

Nearby, security officers tried to keep ambulance routes clear to ensure help could reach the victims.

The mining company Soma Komur issued a statement saying the mine had maximum safety measures.

"Unfortunately, some of our workers have lost their lives in this tragic accident," the statement said.

"The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action," it added.

Energy Minister Yildiz promised that if it was discovered that any negligence was to blame for the disaster "we will not turn a blind eye to it. We will do whatever necessary including all administrative and legal steps."

'Time isn't in our favour'

Turkey's ministry of labour and social security said the mine was last inspected on March 17 and was found to be compliant with safety regulations.

But Oktay Berrin, a miner, said workers were not protected underground.

"There is no security in this mine," he told AFP.

"The unions are just puppets and our management only cares about money."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office said he would arrive in Soma on Wednesday after cancelling a trip to Albania.

Speaking in Ankara, the leader expressed his "heartfelt condolences" to the families of those who died.

"Some of the workers have been rescued and I hope we will be able to rescue the others," Erdogan said.

Energy Minister Yildiz told journalists in Soma that a team of 400 people were involved in the rescue effort and that the main cause of the deaths was carbon monoxide and dioxide poisoning.

"Time isn't working in our favour. We need to get them out. We could be in a troubled situation," he said.

The miners are all thought to have gas masks, but it was not clear how long they would last.

Vedat Didari, a professor of mining, told AFP that the biggest risk was the lack of oxygen.

"If the ceiling fans are not working, the workers could die within an hour," said Didari, from the Bulent Ecevit University in the city of Zonguldak.

Explosions and cave-ins are common in Turkey, particularly in private mines where safety regulations are often flouted.

Turkey's worst mining accident happened in 1992 when 263 workers were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in Zonguldak.

Soma is one of the key centres for lignite coal mining in Turkey, a district with a population of around 100 000 where the mines and a lignite-fired thermal power plant are the main economic activity.

Read more on:    turkey  |  mining
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

The most epic YouTube mashup of 2014

Try to see how many of these things gone viral you recognise in this epic mashup YouTube video!

 
 

I love summer.24

Summer Survey!
Stay in shape this summer
Ultimate fails compilation 2014
This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where you could react and say something and then have to pick up the pieces. Take your time before...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.