UK & World News

  • 13 May 2014, 23:55

Turkish Mine Explosion Leaves Scores Dead

At least 70 miners have been killed in an underground explosion and fire in western Turkey.

More than 200 others remain trapped in shafts and tunnels up to 4km (2.5 miles) from the nearest exit following the blast at a mine in Soma.

There are conflicting reports about the number of casualties, although Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said 70 workers are known to have died.

Television footage showed people cheering and applauding as at least 11 trapped miners, many of them coughing and covered in dust, were pulled out alive.

The accident happened when a power distribution unit exploded around 2km (1.2 miles) below the ground, Nurettin Akcul, head of the Turkish Mineworkers' Union, said.

It is thought the explosion happened during a change of shifts, leading to confusion over the exact number of workers still inside.

Fresh air is being pumped into the mine to help stranded workers who may be struggling to breathe.

In a statement, the mine's owners, Soma Komur, described the explosion as a "tragic accident" which happened "despite maximum safety measures and inspections".

According to Turkey's ministry of labour, the complex was last inspected on March 17 and was found to be compliant with safety regulations.

Mining accidents are not unheard of in Turkey, where workers sometimes endure poor safety conditions.

The country's worst mining disaster was in 1992, when a gas explosion killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

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