13:43 23-07-2014
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Turkey coalmine collapse kills at least 274, Turkish PM launches investigation

Bishkek (AKIpress) - rescue-workers-at-the-entrance-of-the-mine-after-an-explosion-and-fire-at-a-coal Efforts continue to rescue scores of miners trapped after an explosion on Tuesday which has so far claimed 274 lives in Turkey's worst industrial disaster.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, promised a thorough investigation into the mining disaster as hundreds protested in the nation's capital.

Distraught relatives have gathered at the Soma mine, about 480 kilometres south-west of Istanbul, where they are waiting for news of loved ones.

No survivors have been found in the past few hours, with a raging fire said to be hampering rescue efforts, according to the ABC.

Crews are desperately looking for scores of coal miners still missing after an explosion caused a pit to collapse.

"The accident is being investigated thoroughly. We will not allow any negligence," Mr Erdogan said, after inspecting the site in Turkey's Aegean region.

Anger over the deadly fire at the mine echoed across a country that has seen a decade of rapid economic growth but still suffers from one of the world's worst workplace safety records.

Opponents blamed Mr Erdogan's government for privatising the country's mines and ignoring repeated warnings about their safety.

"We, as a nation of 77 million, are experiencing a very great pain," Mr Erdogan said.

But he appeared to turn defensive when asked whether sufficient precautions had been in place at the mine.

"Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It's not like these don't happen elsewhere in the world," he said.

Fire knocked out power and shut down ventilation shafts and elevators shortly after 3:00pm (local time) on Tuesday. Emergency workers pumped oxygen into the mine to try to keep those trapped alive during a rescue effort that lasted through the night.

Thousands of family members and co-workers gathered outside the town's hospital searching for information on their loved ones.

"We haven't heard anything from any of them, not among the injured, not among the list of dead," said one elderly woman, Sengul, whose two nephews worked in the mine along with the sons of two of her neighbours.

"It's what people do here, risking their lives for two cents ... they say one gallery in the mine has not been reached, but it's almost been a day."


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