At least 41 killed and several injured in Turkish mine explosion

An explosion at a coal mine in northern Turkey which left many miners trapped underground has killed at least 41 people, ITV News' Harry Fawcett reports.

The death toll from a coal mine explosion in northern Turkey rose to at least 41 people on Saturday, officials said.

Desperate relatives had waited all night in the cold outside the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine in the town of Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin, hoping for news.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu that, along with the 40 miners confirmed dead, 11 were injured and admitted to hospital. 58 others managed to get out of the mine on their own or were rescued unharmed.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said rescue efforts were almost complete. Earlier he had said that a fire was still burning in the mine’s gallery where more than a dozen miners had been trapped. Work to isolate and cool the fire continued, he said.

The minister earlier said preliminary assessments indicated that the explosion was likely caused by firedamp, which is a reference to flammable gases found in coal mines.

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A miner who works the day shift said he saw the news and hurried to the site to help with the rescue.

“We saw a frightful scene. It cannot be described, it’s very sad,” said Celal Kara, 40.

Ambulances were on standby at the site. Rescue teams were dispatched to the area, including from neighboring provinces, Turkey’s disaster management agency, AFAD, said.

Rescue workers outside the mine Credit: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to visit Amasra on Saturday. He tweeted that any neglect would punished.

Separately, the Turkish police headquarters said in a statement that legal action would be taken against 12 online users who allegedly shared provocative content about the mine explosion to incite hate on social media.

Turkey’s worst mine disaster was in 2014, when 301 miners died after a fire erupted inside a coal mine in the town of Soma, in the west of the country.