ANKARA, Turkey—At least 25 people have died in an explosion in a coal mine in northern Turkey, local authorities said. A rescue team working through the night was trying to bring dozens of trapped people to the surface.
The explosion occurred at 6:45 pm at the state-owned TTK Amasra Muesem Mudurlug mine in Amasra, Baltan province on the Black Sea coast.
Energy Minister Fatih Donmes said preliminary assessments indicated the explosion was likely caused by a fire dump, a reference to combustible gases found in the mine.
There were 110 people in the mine at the time of the explosion, Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu, who was in Amasra to coordinate rescue efforts, told reporters. Most workers were able to evacuate after the explosion, but 49 were trapped in high-risk areas of the facility, the minister said.
Soylu said some of the 49 people had been lifted to safety, but did not provide a number of those still trapped.
“We are faced with photos that we truly regret, regret having to share. [with the public]’ said Soyle.
At least 25 people were killed in the blast, according to the Baltan governor’s office. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at least 17 people were injured, including eight of him being treated in the intensive care unit.
Several rescue teams, including those from neighboring provinces, have been dispatched to the area, according to Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has canceled a trip to the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and announced he would go to Amasra instead to coordinate rescue efforts. He said three prosecutors have been assigned to investigate the case.
“I hope no more lives will be lost and that the miners will be saved,” Erdogan said in a statement. “All our efforts are directed in that direction.”
The private DHA news agency said one worker told Bartin Governor Nurtac Arslan that he had emerged from the mine by his own means. He said he felt a ‘pressure’, but couldn’t see anything because of the dust and dirt.
People flooded the mines seeking news of trapped friends and colleagues, the DHA reported.
In Turkey’s worst mining disaster, a fire broke out in a coal mine in the western Turkish town of Soma in 2014, killing a total of 301 people.