Soma: More than 200 miners are killed, and many are injured in an explosion in a coal mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa
A man kisses his son, rescued of the mine, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa. At least 157 miners were killed in collapsed coal mine in the western Turkish city of Manisa. Pic: AFP
The accident in the mine in the town of Soma some 250 kilometers south of Istanbul is one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history.
Rescuers were struggling early today to reach more than 200 miners still trapped inside the coal mine. More than 360 workers have been evacuated so far.
Yildiz says the rescue effort is "reaching a critical stage" with the death toll likely to rise as time passes.
Turkey's disaster and emergency management presidency said in a statement that the explosion occurred in a privately-owned mine in the Soma district of Turkey's Manisa province.
The Soma Coal Mining Company, the mine's operator, also issued a statement confirming casualties, but did not give the exact number of workers trapped in the mine.
The operator said that they inspected the mine's facilities only two months ago and found nothing against regulations.
The explosion occurred at a power distribution unit two km below the surface, which caused the mine's elevator to stop working.
Reports said a fire broke out after an explosion caused by an electric fault. Nearly 600 workers were inside the mine, and while workers were changing their shift, a transformer exploded. Only 280 of them were said to have escaped.
The latest incident is one of the numerous mining accidents that Turkey has had in recent years. Accidents, cave-ins, and explosions have claimed the lives of dozens of mine workers yearly.