Over 200 dead in Turkish coal mine disaster
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/14/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
At least 201 coal miners have been killed in an explosion and fire at a Turkish mine 150 miles south of Istanbul. At last count, 363 have been pulled to safety. The remainder of the 787 inside the mine at the time of the explosion remain unaccounted for.
The fire in the mine was triggered by an electrical fault. Rescue teams are at the scene, providing oxygen to the trapped miners.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says that 80 mine workers were injured, with at least four of them in serious condition. Most of the deaths were from carbon monoxide poisoning, and those trapped were nearly 500 yards underground. "Time is working against us," Yildiz says.
The explosion occurred during a change in shifts, leading to uncertainty over the exact number of workers still in the mine.
Starvation never goes on vacation --
The fire in the mine was triggered by an electrical fault, according to Yildiz. Rescue teams are at the scene, providing oxygen to the trapped miners.
Local TV has shown people cheering as some workers emerged from the mine covered in soot.
Authorities are contingent on the possibility that the death toll could jump dramatically. There is only a finite amount of cold storage facility to hold corpses here.
Miles of underground tunnels within the mine have led to search and rescue complication. Police have set up fences and stood guard around the state hospital where the injured were taken.
The company that owns the mine, SOMA Komur Isletmeleri A.S., said the accident occurred despite the "highest safety measures and constant controls" and that an investigation was being launched.
The company had confirmed that a number of its workers were killed but would not give a specific figure.
"Our main priority is to get our workers out so that they may be reunited with their loved ones," the company said in a statement.
The fire had knocked out electricity inside the mine, according to the English-language Turkish newspaper Zaman. It said workers are pumping fresh air into the smoke-filled mine to get oxygen to trapped workers.
Mining accidents are common in Turkey, where safety conditions are lacking. A gas explosion killed 263 mine workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak in 1992.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan postponed a trip to Albania to visit Soma.
Hundreds of people have gathered outside the mine and the hospital in Soma seeking news of their loved ones.
Some people at the scene complained about the lack of information from state and company officials about the situation of the trapped workers.
"The rescue teams are very experienced," Yildiz said, according to CNN. "They know what they need to do."
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