Turkish coal mine explosion kills hundreds
The death toll in a mine explosion in western Turkey jumped to 201, a provincial mayor told CNN Turk news channel on Tuesday, citing health officials at the entrance of the mine.
Cengiz Ergun, Mayor of Manisa, cautioned that the latest death toll had not been officially confirmed.
Initial reports said 17 people had been killed in the explosion and ensuing fire, and many more were trapped.
It was estimated that 580 workers were underground at the time of the blast, though it is thought many of them managed to escape.
It is not clear exactly how many are still trapped in the mine in the town of Soma, in Manisa province, about 250km (150 miles) south of Istanbul.
Large crowds of worried family members have gathered near the privately-owned mine, many in tears.
Energy Ministry Taner Yildiz told Turkish TV that carbon monoxide poisoning could have claimed lives.
He said that the fire had been triggered by an electrical fault.
In televised comments, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "evacuation efforts are under way. I hope that we are able to rescue them".
TV footage showed rescuers helping workers from the mine, their faces and hard-hats covered in soot and dust. Some were able to walk but others were carried on stretchers to a fleet of waiting ambulances.
Turkey\’s coal mines are notoriously dangerous, prompting some in parliament to demand an investigation into poor safety conditions.
Turkey\’s worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.