150 miners dead, hundreds trapped, in Turkish coal mine explosion

More than 150 miners have been confirmed killed and at least 200 remain trapped after a coal mine explosion in western Turkey.

The situation has been exacerbated by a resulting blaze, started by the initial explosion.

"According to unofficial data, the death toll has reached 157 and 75 injured," Manisa mayor Cengiz Ergun told CNN Turk television, according to AP.

This is a massive rise on the official death toll which stood at only 17 dead and 11 injured.

It is understood that close to 600 people were trapped in the mine at the time of the explosion, although some miners did manage to escape.

Numbers are currently unclear as the explosion occurred during a shift change at the mine.

Rescue workers are on site at the coal mine in Soma, pumping air through the ventilation shafts to keep workers still trapped by the fire alive.

Turkish mining minister Taner Yildiz said Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped into the mine. This is the most important thing for our workers down there," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters, on his way to Manisa, according to Reuters.

"We are facing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide poisoning … We have to get our friends out of there swiftly."

The mine owner,  Soma Komur, has issued a statement calling the disaster a “tragic accident”.

"Unfortunately, some of our workers have lost their lives in this tragic accident," the statement said.

"The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action," it added.

This accident is the most deadly in the country for the last twenty years, when a gas explosion killed 263 workers in the north of the country.



Image: AP

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