Scores Killed in Turkey Coal Mine Blast

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 @ 03:05 PM gHale


An underground explosion and fire killed at least 238 workers and left 120 miners missing at a coal mine in western Turkey Tuesday.

The mine in Soma, Turkey, is 155 miles south of Istanbul. The deaths were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said there would be an investigation into the tragedy to its “smallest detail” and “no negligence will be ignored.”

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma at the time of Tuesday’s explosion and rescue workers pulled out 363 of them. Scores suffered injuries, Yildiz said.

The last worker rescued alive emerged from the mine around dawn, a government official said on condition of anonymity because she didn’t have prior authorization to speak publicly. As of 3:30 p.m., it had been about 10 hours since anyone came out alive.

“Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing,” Yildiz said before Erdogan’s visit. Erdogan said there were about 120 workers still inside the mine.

The explosion tore through the mine as workers were preparing for a shift change, officials said, which likely raised the casualty toll because there were more miners inside than usual.

Mining accidents are common in Turkey, which has poor safety conditions. Turkey’s worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

Turkey’s Labor and Social Security Ministry said the mine had been inspected five times since 2012, including in March of 2014, and that no issues violating work safety and security were detected.

Authorities say the disaster followed an explosion and fire caused by a power distribution unit.



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