At least twenty eight workers have been killed in a mining blast with dozens more still trapped inside a coal mine in Amasra, in the northern province of Bartın following a blast on Friday night.
The death toll was confirmed by the Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who said in a tweet: “The number of deaths due to the blast in Bartın has reached 28. Everything necessary is being done for our 11 patients, 6 in Istanbul and 5 in Bartın.”
There were 110 men in the mine in Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, when the blast occurred on Friday. Officials believe it was caused by firedamp, which is an explosive mixture of flammable gases in mines. The blast triggered a fire, with the lethal combination trapping the workers, some of them 300 metres below ground.
Around 58 miners have been rescued to date, with 11 of these hospitalised. Rescue teams have been working through the night to reach the remaining workers.
Relatives of the missing have assembled at the mine anxiously awaiting news of their loved ones. Footage throughout the night has shown miners, blackened and bewildered, being led out of the mine by their rescuers.
According to the Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez, the fire is now out and ventilation in the mine is working, but access to the trapped men is difficult due to parts of the mine collapsing following the blast.
Concern, however, is rising for the estimated 49 men still trapped at a depth of 300 metres, as their location is currently out of reach for the rescuers, and many expect the death toll to rise.
The Amasra mine belongs to the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises. According to some local reports, the mine was inspected nine days ago.
Turkiye has had several coal mining disasters, with the deadliest occuring in 2014, when 301 people died after a blast in the western town of Soma.