Turkish Minister: 18 still trapped after Turkey mine fire, Death toll rise
Three days after an explosion and fire tore through a mine in Soma western Turkey, 18 miners are feared still to be trapped below ground, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said today. The incident was caused after a transformer exploded in a coal mine in western Turkey and the explosion left many for dead.
Yildiz told reporters at a news conference that the confirmed death toll is now 284.
But this could rise to as many as 302, he said, if the 18 men thought still to be in the Soma coal mine have all died following the blaze.
Previous estimates had put the number of missing miners at over 100.
What has become more of a recovery effort than a rescue continued today he said.
Smoke and fumes are hindering efforts to reach those still missing below the surface and hope is dwindling that any more survivors will be found.
It was only in the first 24 hours after Tuesday’s blast that anyone was pulled out alive. Autopsies have revealed that those killed after the blast and fire, which officials have said was started by an electrical problem, died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
President Abdullah Gul offered words of comfort as he visited Soma a day after his premier attracted public ire.
The mine fire is a “sorrow for the whole Turkish nation,” Gul told reporters, and he offered his condolences to the victims’ families.
An investigation into the disaster has begun, Gul said, adding that he was sure this would “shed light” on what regulations are needed. “Whatever is necessary will be done,” he said.
Rescuers saved at least 88 miners in the frantic moments after a power transformer blew up Tuesday during a shift change at the mine, sparking a choking fire deep inside.
Since then, the bodies of nearly 200 miners who were trapped in the burning shaft nearly a mile underground have been returned to their families.
Mass funerals took place Thursday in a community stricken with grief.