World / Middle East

Death toll rises to 282 in Turkey mine explosion

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-15 19:26

SOMA, Turkey - The death toll of Turkey's coal mine disaster Tuesday has reached 282, making it the country's worst industrial disaster in history, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said early Thursday.

Death toll rises to 282 in Turkey mine explosion

A family member checks a list of names of miners injured in Wednesday's explosion, at a coal mine in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa, May 15, 2014. Four Turkish labour unions called for a national one-day strike on Thursday in protest against the country's worst industrial disaster that killed at least 282 people in the coal mine in western Turkey.  [Photo/Agencies]

Yildiz said that a fire was continuing at the mine shaft and rescue operations were suspended during the night due to accumulated carbon monoxide.

Hopes of finding more survivors are diminishing. During the last 12 hours, no miner has been rescued alive.

The disaster occurred in the privately-owned mine in the western province of Manisa during a shift changeover. The fire broke out 150 meters underground, Yildiz said.

As Soma Madencilik, the company that owns the mine, does not keep entry and exit records, no exact number is available of how many people remain trapped underground.

According to miners, between 700 and 800 workers work in one shift, and the blast happened during a shift change. There was also no clear information on the ratio of carbon dioxide and oxygen inside the mine.

There are about 1,000 people, including four rescue teams, police and journalists on the rescue scene and security has been strengthened. Family members of miners are not allowed to stay at the rescue scene.

Mines and stone quarries appear as some of the most dangerous places for Turkish workers, according to government statistics.

More than 3,000 people have died and more than 100,000 have been injured in mining accidents since 1941 in Turkey, figures from Turkey's statistics agency show.

The last major mining tragedy in Turkey occurred in 1992, when a fire and explosion killed 263 people. Two other big mining accidents took place in 1983 and 1990, leaving 103 and 68 dead respectively.


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