Death toll rises to 28 in coal mine explosion in Turkey

AMASRA, Turkey (AP) — The death toll in a coal mine explosion in northern Turkey rose to at least 28 people on Saturday, officials said. Rescue efforts continued as a fire burned through the mine and desperate relatives awaited news.

There were 110 miners working in the pit when the blast happened on Friday night at the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine in the town of Amasra in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said efforts were continuing to reach 15 people. Most of them are in the gallery of the mine where a fire is still burning.

“It’s not a huge fire, but to get there safely, the fire and the carbon monoxide need to be cleared up,” he told reporters on the site.

Four or five other miners were trapped in cave-ins, Donmez added. The minister said earlier that preliminary assessments indicated the explosion was likely caused by firedamp, which refers to flammable gases found in coal mines.

Relatives of the miners, wrapped up against the cold, waited outside the mine overnight, desperate to hear from their loved ones.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 28 miners died and 11 others were hospitalized in Bartin and Istanbul. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 58 people had been rescued. The precise numbers were unclear.

A day laborer said he saw the news and rushed to the site to help with the rescue. “We saw a terrible scene, it cannot be described, it is very sad,” said Celal Kara, 40. “They’re all my friends…they’ve all had dreams,” the 14-year-old miner said after leaving the mine, his face covered in soot.

Ambulances were on standby at the site. Rescue teams have been dispatched to the area, including from neighboring provinces, Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD said.

The Turkish president was due to visit Amasra on Saturday.

Turkey’s worst mining disaster was in 2014, when 301 people died in a fire inside a coal mine in the western Turkish town of Soma.


Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul.

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