Video shows moment landslide destroys Turkey gold mine as nine workers go missing

Footage of the landslide shows huge mounds of earth rushing down a gully, flowing over everything in its path

Hundreds of rescuers have been deployed in eastern Turkey in an attempt to find nine workers trapped in a gold mine following a massive landslide.

Authorities have also detained four people in connection with the landslide, Turkish state media reported.

The landslide hit the Anagold Madencilik company's Copler mine in the town of Ilic in the mountainous region of Erzincan on Tuesday.

The incident involved a mound of soil extracted from the mine, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said.

More than 800 search and rescue personnel have been sent out to look for the missing workers, five of whom are believed to be near or inside a metal container when the landslide struck.

Three others were either inside or close to a vehicle, while another was inside a truck, authorities told reporters, explaining that radar detection devices were being used in the hunt.

“We have an advantage in this mass,” Mr Yerlikaya said. “We have started to search (for the vehicles and container) with metal radar detection. As soon as we get a trace of these vehicles and container with these radar scans, we want to focus on them and make progress.”

Relatives of missing miners leave the Copler gold mine near Ilic village, eastern Turkey. Credit: AP

The four people arrested in relation to the landslide are senior mine officials, Turkish national broadcaster TRT reported, as they look into what caused it.

Experts have warned that there may be negative environmental impacts of the landslide, as the soil could contain dangerous substances such as cyanide, which is used to extract gold.

Geologist Suleyman Pampal also warned of a threat to the nearby Euphrates River.

The Environment Ministry said in a statement that a stream leading to the Euphrates was closed to prevent water pollution. Erzincan Governor Hamza Aydoglu also said there was no leakage into the waterway.

View of the landslide at the Copler gold mine near Ilic village, eastern Turkey. Credit: AP

The mine was closed down in 2020 after cyanide leaked into the river, which flows through Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

It reopened two years later after the company was fined and a full cleanup operation was completed.

The mine was last inspected in August, Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar said.

“During their inspections, they did not find anything relating to the mining accident that took place yesterday," Mr Bayraktar told reporters near the site. “Our investigation into what may have caused the accident is continuing.”

Turkey has a poor history when it comes to mining safety, with an explosion at the Amasra coal mine on the Black Sea coast having killed 41 workers in 2022.

A woman prays at the grave of Ibrahim Duman, 26, a victim of the mine accident, in Soma, Turkey, Thursday, May 15, 2014. Credit: AP

The country's most fatal mining disaster took place in 2014 at a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, where 301 people were killed.

In the wake of those incidents, engineers warned that safety risks were frequently ignored and inspections not adequately carried out.

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