At least 28 people killed in coal mine explosion in Turkey

At least 28 people were killed when an explosion ripped through a coal mine in northern Turkey on Friday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, but it was not known how many more people might be trapped because 110 were working when the blast occurred.

According to Koca, 17 people were being treated at the time of the blast, in an earlier statement posted to Twitter. Earlier, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that 49 people were working at a depth of 300 meters and 350 meters (985 to 1,148 feet), which he described as a risky area.

Anadolu reported that Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu stated that some people had been evacuated from the blast site, while others had not been able to be rescued.

Minister of Energy Fatih Donmez said that the initial indications were that the explosion was caused by firedamp, a term referring to methane in coal mines.

Donmez said the mine was being ventilated adequately and that there were no active fires inside, but that there had been some collapses.

At around 1515GMT, an explosion occurred 300 metres (985 feet) below the mine’s entrance, according to the Bartin governor’s office. Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises owns the mine.

An emergency official said ambulances were standing by to take injured miners to hospitals after workers and family members were seen huddled around the mine entrance on Turkish television footage.

The cause of the explosion in Bartin was being investigated by the prosecutor’s office.

President Erdogan said he would travel to Bartin on Saturday. Our hope is that the loss of life does not increase further, that our miners are rescued safely, and that all our efforts are focused on this goal,” he said on Twitter.

Image Credit: Nilay Meryem Comlek/Depo Photos via REUTERS