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article imageScores dead, hundreds trapped in coal mine disaster in Turkey

By Nathan Salant     May 14, 2014 in World
Soma - More than 150 miners are dead and hundreds more missing Tuesday after an explosion and fire crippled a coal mine in western Turkey.
More than 150 miners are dead and hundreds more missing Tuesday after an explosion and fire crippled a coal mine in western Turkey.
Nearly 800 workers in Soma were thought to be as far as two miles underground when the explosion occurred, which was initially been blamed on an electrical malfunction, according to the Reuters news service.
Most of the miners confirmed dead were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and 76 have been hospitalized, Turkey's energy minister, Taner Yildiz, told Reuters.
The death toll from Turkey's worst mining accident in decades is expected to rise, Reuters said.
"Rescue efforts for our brothers in the mine are ongoing," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said early in the day in Ankara, the capital.
"God willing, in the coming hours, I hope to receive uplifting news," Erdogan said, before the extent of the disaster was clearer, Reuters said.
Erdogan canceled a trip to Albania on Wednesday to rush to the disaster scene, Reuters said.
Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine to try to keep alive miners trapped by flames, while relatives and fellow miners maintained a vigil outside Soma's hospital.
Police officers had to hold back the crowd to open a way for arriving ambulances, Reuters said.
The miners were trapped after the explosion triggered a power outage that rendered elevators unusable.
Manisa province Mayor Cengiz Ergun said 157 bodies had been recovered.
As least eight miners have been brought out alive, Reuters said.
"Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped into the mine -- this is the most important thing for our workers down there," Yildiz said.
"We are facing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning, we have to get our friends out of there swiftly," he said.
But government officials warned that the death toll from the disaster could rise significantly if more miners aren't rescued quickly.
"Unfortunately, we could see a grimmer picture," one official said.
"The death toll may rise but the rescue teams are working hard," the official said.
Turkey's worst mining accident was in 1992, when 263 workers were killed in a gas explosion in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, Reuters said.
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