At least 40 people died and 28 were injured. after the explosion the day before in a coal mine in northwestern Turkey, where rescue teams continue to work against the clock. “Fifty-eight miners were able to escape unharmed.”
“We counted a total of 40 dead. 58 miners were able to save themselves, or were rescued by the teams,” declared the Minister of the Interior. Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to the site of the explosion, the Amasra mine on the Black Sea coast.
The Minister of Energy, Fatih Dönmez, also present at the scene, explained that “a fire broke out in one of the galleries after the explosion”.
Among those rescued there are 28 injured. Next to him, the Minister of Energy, Fatih Dönmez, visibly affected, estimated that “the end of the rescue operations” was approaching.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he was canceling his schedule to travel to the crash site on Saturday afternoon. “Our wish is that the loss of life is not greater and that our miners can get out safe and sound”he tweeted.
At the time of the explosion, which occurred on Friday at 6:15 p.m. local time (10:15 a.m. Colombian time), there were more than 110 miners inside. Local television showed images of hundreds of people, many of them crying, in front of a damaged white building near the mine entrance.
The Minister of Energy also said that, according to the first observations, the detonation was caused by an accumulation of firedamp, a gas that is common in underground mines, essentially composed of methane. Afad, Turkey’s public disaster management body, initially announced that a faulty transformer was the cause of the explosion, before retracting and saying it was methane gas that exploded for “unknown” reasons.
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The rescue continues
The miners themselves participate in the rescue tasks. “We have removed the corpses of our companions, it is a horrible thing for us”, said one of them, questioned by the private Turkish channel ‘NTV’.
“I do not know what happened. There was a sudden pressure and I couldn’t see anything,” a miner who was able to get out of the tunnels by his own means told the state news agency ‘Anadolu’.
In images broadcast on Turkish television, paramedics were seen giving oxygen to the miners who had left and then taking them to the nearest hospitals. The uneven galleries are located at 300 and 350 meters below sea level.
The mayor of Amasra, Recai Cakir, indicated in turn that among the miners rescued there are some seriously injured. The rescue work was carried out throughout the night, despite the added difficulty of the lack of light. The local prosecutor’s office said it was treating the incident as an accident and had launched a formal investigation.
Occupational accidents are frequent in Turkey, where the strong economic development of the last decade has often come at the expense of safety standards, especially in construction and mining. The country suffered its worst disaster in 2014, when 301 workers were killed in an explosion at a coal mine in the western city of Soma.
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