Ankara: At least 28 people were killed and several others remain trapped following an explosion at a coal mine in Turkey’s Bartin province, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed on Saturday.
The Minister confirmed the toll in a tweet and added that “everything necessary for the treatment of 11 patients, six in Istanbul and five in Bartin, is being done”.
Dozens of miners have been trapped in the mine located in Amasra town since the explosion at around 6.15 p.m. on Friday evening, with nearly 150 personnel currently engaged in search and rescue operations.
The explosion is believed to have occurred at around 300 metres deep, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said, adding that some 49 people were working in the “risky” zone between 300 and 350 metres underground.
“There are those whom we were not able to evacuate from that area,” the BBC quoted Soylu as saying to reporters at the scene.
Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said there were initial indications that the blast was caused by firedamp, which is methane forming an explosive mixture in coal mines.
“We are facing a truly regretful situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is closely monitoring the situation, Anadolu News Agency reported citing an official statement.
He has cancelled a planned trip to the eastern Diyarbakir province and will instead travel to Amasra on Saturday.
In a tweet, Erdogan said search and rescue operations are progressing “rapidly” at the mine which belongs to the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises.
Turkey witnessed its deadliest coal mining disaster in 2014, when 301 people died after a blast in the western town of Soma.