Turkey: 232 coal miners die in mine fire

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Rescue workers battled flames and methane gas to try to save more than 100 miners still trapped underground after fire in a coal shaft claimed more than 200 lives in what threatens to become Turkey’s worst mining disaster. NTV television, citing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the scene, said 232 people were known to have died in the blaze that broke out on Tuesday. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 363 miners had been rescued, and NTV said 125 to 150 others were thought to remain below ground, citing mayor Cengiz Ergun of the nearby city of Manisa. “Our hopes are fading,” Yildiz said at the site, adding that a three-day national mourning period had been declared, beginning yesterday. He warned that the fire continued to burn and casualties were likely to rise. The death toll from the incident in the western town of Soma was heading “toward the highest loss of workers’ life in an accident in Turkey”, he said. The country’s worst mining accident took place in 1992, when 263 miners were killed in a gas explosion. – Bloomberg

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