More than 200 miners have been killed and hundreds more are feared trapped inside a coal mine in western Turkey, after a transformer exploded and started a fire underground on Tuesday.
Around 787 workers were working in the mine in Soma when the blast occurred. Manisa province Mayor Cengiz Ergun said that 157 bodies have been retrieved so far but the death toll is expected to rise.
The Natural Disaster and Emergency Coordination Directorate has rescued eight people, 80 injured people, and believes that more than 200 workers are still under the debris. The accident occurred during a shift change, so the exact number of trapped workers could not be ascertained.
The transformer explosion is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault that resulted in a fire and power outage, which stopped elevators and trapped hundreds of miners two miles below ground.
According to Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD, carbon monoxide poisoning killed most of those confirmed dead and rescue workers are pumping oxygen into the mine to help those still inside.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said: "Rescue efforts for our brothers in the mine are on-going … God willing, in the coming hours, I hope to receive uplifting news."
The accident is thought to be Turkey’s worst mining accident after the 1992 gas explosion in a mine in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, that resulted in 263 deaths.