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Turkey mine explosion kills at least 205; toll likely to rise

14 May 2014

Rescuers were today battling to reach hundreds of workers feared trapped after an explosion at a mine in western Turkey which is so far reported to have killed at least 205 people.

The death toll could rise with hundreds more still trapped, the country's energy minister has said.

Speaking to reporters at the scene of the disaster on Tuesday, energy minister Taner Yildiz said that 787 workers were inside the mine when the blast hit a power unit, and another 76 people were injured and hospitalised. He added that most of the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Time is working against us," Yildiz said, adding that some of the workers were 420 metres deep inside the mine, located in the town of Soma, about 250km south of Istanbul.

Turkey has declared three days of national mourning for the victims.

"The problem is more serious than we thought,'' Yildiz said. ''It is developing into an accident with the highest worker death toll Turkey has seen so far."

Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD said 93 people had been rescued, 85 of them injured. The explosion is believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer.

Explosions and cave-ins are reported to be common in Turkey, particularly in private mines where safety regulations are often flouted.

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