Tuesday, December 23, 2014   

Turkey mine blast kills 205
(05-14 16:21)

Rescuers battled Wednesday to reach hundreds of workers feared trapped after an explosion at a mine in western Turkey that has killed at least 205 people in one of the worst industrial disasters ever to hit the country.
As Turkey declared three days of national mourning for the victims, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the toll could rise to exceed the 263 workers killed in the country's worst ever mining disaster, AFP reports.
"We are worried that human loss could increase,'' he told reporters.
"The problem is more serious than we thought. It is developing into an accident with the highest worker death toll Turkey has seen so far.''
Yildiz said 205 miners had been confirmed dead after Tuesday's blast at the mine at Soma, in Manisa province.
He declined to say how many people remained trapped in the mine, although earlier reports said 787 workers were underground when the blast occurred.
Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said 93 people had been rescued, 85 of them injured.
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.
Tuesday's explosion was believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 1230 GMT Tuesday.
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.
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, 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.   
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