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