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Photo of an injured miner being carried out of a mine in Turkey.
Miners carry a friend from a coal mine in Soma, Turkey, after a deadly explosion Tuesday.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

Christina Nunez

National Geographic

Published May 14, 2014

A blast at a mine in western Turkey Tuesday afternoon left more than 200 dead and at least 100 more trapped. The blast occurred when a transformer exploded, setting off a fire that was still burning Wednesday as rescue efforts continued.

People stand in front of a hospital as they wait for news of relatives on May 14, 2014 in Soma.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

People wait for news of relatives outside of a hospital in Soma in the western province of Manisa, about 300 miles (483 kilometers) southwest of Istanbul. An underground fire hampered rescue efforts and endangered those still trapped. This was the worst mining disaster in the country since a gas explosion at a coal mine near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak that killed nearly 270 miners in 1992.

A photo of a crowd of people outside a mine.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CEM OKSUZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Rescue workers, miners, and relatives thronged the area around the Soma mine following the deadly explosion and fire Tuesday. Reports noted that the explosion occurred during a shift change at the mine, making it difficult for authorities to estimate how many of its 787 workers were unaccounted for.

A photo of men sitting outside a mine.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CEM OKSUZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Workers wait at the scene of the accident Tuesday. Turkey has many coal fields, and the country has seen a string of deadly mining incidents over the years.

An injured miner came out carried by rescuers, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

An injured miner emerges from the Soma mine Tuesday, carried by rescuers. At least 93 people reportedly had been rescued from the scene, a few of whom were able to crawl out on their own. The mine is owned by Soma Komur Isletmeleri A.S. and had last been inspected in March, according to Turkish government officials.

Rescue workers react on May 14, 2014 in Soma, Turkey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY OZGU OZDEMIR, GETTY IMAGES

Rescue workers continued their efforts Wednesday as the death toll in the explosion rose.  Coal accounts for about 30 percent of Turkey's electricity generation, with the rest coming from natural gas and hydroelectricity.

Miners wait outside a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, early Wednesday, May 14, 2014.
PHOTOGRAPH BY EMRAH GUREL, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Miners wait outside the Soma mine early Wednesday. "This tragedy is a reminder of the paramount importance of occupational safety and health in the mining sector," International Labour Organization Director General Guy Ryder said in a statement. The ILO said in 2012 that Turkey had the highest rate of worker deaths in Europe.

A man kisses his son, rescued of the mine, on May 13, 2014 after an explosion in a coal mine in Manisa.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A man kisses his son, who was rescued from the Soma mine Tuesday. Some ten million people around the world are employed producing coal, according to the International Labour Organization. Many are involved in mining on a smaller scale, where accident rates can be six or seven times higher than in larger mines.

An injured miner came out carried by rescuers after an explosion in Manisa on May 13, 2014.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BULENT KILIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

An injured miner is carried out by rescuers Tuesday. Fresh air was being pumped into the mine Wednesday in hopes of keeping any trapped survivors alive.

A photo of a group of men outside a mine.
PHOTOGRAPH CEM OKSUZ/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Workers help with search and rescue operations at the Soma mine, where more than 200 died Tuesday. Many of the victims died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

A photo of the mine in Turkey.
PHOTOGRAPH BY EMIN MENGUARSLEN/ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Smoke rises from the Soma mine following Tuesday's transformer explosion and fire. "We are worried that this death toll will rise," Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, adding that rescue operations needed to be completed before dawn.

7 comments
Şeyma Karabekiroğlu
Şeyma Karabekiroğlu

ı'm a turkish person.And ı want to said that we are very sad because of this situation.Thanks for praying and showed respect. It's so good that you are with us.


Juan Martinez
Juan Martinez

True watch out coal miners never know it might happen to you!

Grace Burgert
Grace Burgert

Very, very sad explosion. Praying for all of the miners and their families. I hope that this becomes an example for what can happen when greed prevails.

LARA LOPES
LARA LOPES

É ai que vemos o caos que se transforma, uma decisão mal tomada, para evitar custos altos,mas, infelizmente são vidas que estão em jogo não é só uma mina,é um grupo de pessoas que estão buscando uma melhora econômica, e se deparam com situações como essa, que muda radicalmente a vida das famílias dos mineradores deixando para trás inúmeros sonhos ou até mesmo pessoas frustradas com ocorrido.

Julian Bakker
Julian Bakker

Another scandalous evidence of capitalism greed. Obviously, cheap equipment was installed, inadequate maintenance to save cost and increase profit for the private mine owner. And to add insult to injury, Erdogan takes his side by arguing that acidents happen all over the world, so also in Turkey, also in Soma. Hopefully, powerful protests will soon end the Erdogan excess capitalistic regime and change to a more democratic form of government with more stringent controls of hazardous industries.

jody johnson
jody johnson

@Julian Bakker  You assume greed is a culprit with no evidence at all? How can greed be blamed at the smaller mines where the owners work the mine and have accident rates 10 times higher than the larger mines? Do you think the owners are cheating themselves?????These men are mining a combustible product! Has it even occurred to you check your facts?? 

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