More than 200 die in Turkey mine explosion

May 14, 2014
A miner cries as rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner from the mine in Soma, western Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire at the coal mine killed at least 232 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history. Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine at the time of the accident. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

A miner cries as rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner from the mine in Soma, western Turkey, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. An explosion and fire at the coal mine killed at least 232 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine at the time of the accident. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

By Joel Lee

A coal mine explosion caused by fire on a transformer in Soma in the western part of Turkey has killed at least 201 miners with more than 200 still trapped underground, AP reported on Tuesday.

There were 787 miners working at the time of the accident in the mine located 250km southwest of Istanbul.

Some 400 rescuers, dozens of ambulances and helicopters have been dispatched to the scene and 363 have been rescued so far.

“It’s important to pump clean air into the underground,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

According to Turkey government officials, 76 are in critical conditions. Authorities said most deaths resulted from carbon monoxide poisoning.

In working against time they are preparing for the possibility of the death toll rising drastically by setting up a cold storage facility to keep the recovered corpses.

The rescue effort is hampered by the design of the mine which consists of kilometers-long tunnels.

Due to lax safety measures mining accidents commonly occur in Turkey, with the worst disaster in a 1992 explosion killing 263 near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak, AP reported.

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