Mine explosion in northern Turkey kills 22, traps dozens

An explosion inside a coal mine in northern Turkey killed at least 22 people, Turkey’s health minister said, while rescuers were trying to bring dozens of others trapped inside the mine to the surface.

The explosion occurred on Friday at the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine in the town of Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said a preliminary assessment indicated the explosion was likely caused by firedamp – a reference to flammable gases found in coal mines.

There were 110 people in the mine at the time of the explosion, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who travelled to Amasra to coordinate the rescue operation, told reporters. Most of the workers were able to evacuate following the blast, but 49 were trapped in a higher risk area of the facility, the minister said.

Soylu would not provide a number for those still trapped, saying some among the 49 had been lifted to safety.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter that 22 people were killed in the blast. He did not say how many people were taken out of the mine with injuries, but said eight were in serious condition.

Several rescue teams were dispatched to the area, including from neighbouring provinces, Turkey’s disaster management agency, AFAD, said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would cancel all his other arrangements and fly to the scene of the accident on Saturday.

“Our hope is that the loss of life will not increase further, that our miners will be found alive,” Erdogan said in a tweet.

“All of our efforts are aimed in this direction.”

The explosion occurred 300 metres (985 feet) below the entrance of the mine at around 15:15 GMT, the Bartin governor’s office said.

State-owned Anadolu Agency quoted Bartin Governor Nurtac Arslan as saying 44 people were trapped 300 metres (984 feet) below the entrance of the mine, and five more were trapped 350 metres (1,150 feet) below the entrance.

Television images showed hundreds of people, some with tears in their eyes, congregating around a damaged white building near the entrance to the pit.

Earlier, Turkey’s Maden-Is mining workers’ union attributed the blast to a build-up of methane gas, but other officials said it was premature to draw conclusions about the cause of the accident.

In Turkey’s worst mine disaster, a total of 301 people died in 2014 in a fire inside a coal mine in the town of Soma, western Turkey.

Article source: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/14/dozens-trapped-after-turkey-mine-blast-governor