Coal mine blast kills 19 in Turkey

At least 19 miners have been killed after a methane gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in western Turkey, local media reported.  Gov. Sehabettin Harput of the western province of Bursa said the Thursday evening blast caused a shaft to collapse at the mine in the village of Devecikonagi, near the town of Mustafakemalpasa, CNN-Turk television network reported.

Thirty two miners were working nearly 700 feet (213 meters) below the surface when the blast occurred. Rescuers could not enter the mine for several hours due to a high concentration of gas. Air was pumped into the mine to try to disseminate the gas as rescuers waited for experienced miners to arrive.

The remaining 13 miners are also feared dead. Six bodies were recovered early on Friday morning.

Labor Minister Omer Dincer expressed hope for survivors. “We’re very sorry. We did not lose our hope. We’re trying to reach them,” Dincer told reporters.

Accidents are frequent in Turkish mines due to safety violations, outdated equipment and high concentrations of methane gas.

Seventeen miners were killed in a methane gas explosion at a coal mine in western Balikesir province three years ago. In Turkey’s worst mining disaster, a gas explosion killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak in 1992.


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