Turkey: Up to 20 miners have been reported killed and as many as 300 are trapped underground after a n explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey.
Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters.
Energy minister Taner Yildiz said a number of miners had died but refused to give a number or confirm a report that as many as 20 had died from smoke inhalation or burns.
“It is a serious accident,” Mr Yildiz told reporters before leaving for Soma to oversee the rescue operation. “Our priority is to reach our miner brothers … any figure we give could well be wrong.”
Mr Atci said a power distribution unit exploded, leaving up to 300 workers still inside the mine. NTV television said the accident occurred more than a mile inside the mine.
Mr Yildiz said rescuers were pumping fresh air into the mine and rescue teams from neighbouring regions were rushing to the area. Journalists were being kept away from the site but a witness told NTV that ambulances were seen entering and leaving the area.
Mining accidents are common in Turkey which is plagued by poor safety conditions.
The country’s worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.