Some 201 coal miners were killed and hundreds were trapped at a mine in the western province of Manisa's Soma district on May 13 after a fire broke out following an explosion in a power distribution unit, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said. In a statement released early May 14, Yildiz also expressed concerns that the death toll could rise.
Rescue teams have continued their efforts to get trapped workers out of the coal mine throughout the night, while officials have said the fire in the mine has been extinguished.
"We have lost 201 of our worker brothers. We fear that the number will rise," Yildiz said in a statement on 5 a.m. local time, 11 hours after the incident, adding that 80 workers were injured. In an earlier statement at midnight, Yildiz said that 787 workers were inside the mine when the fire broke out and the victims died due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The tragic accident and the massive number of deaths has sparked a wide anger as many denounced the insufficiency of security measures, accusing the government and mine companies of "negligence."
"The mining accident that we have seen at this private facility today is truly a labor murder of the highest degree. We are currently facing the worst labor murder in the country's history," said the former head of miners' union Maden-Is, Çetin Uygur.
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