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201 dead, many trapped in Turkish coal mine

  • Relatives try to get information outside a local hospital after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

    Relatives try to get information outside a local hospital after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

  • Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

    Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Workers and relatives arrive after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Workers and relatives arrive after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • People at the entrance of the local hospital after an explosion and fire  at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    People at the entrance of the local hospital after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

    Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)

  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

    Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

  • Relatives try to get information outside a local hospital after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
  • Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Workers and relatives arrive after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Rescue workers at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • People at the entrance of the local hospital after an explosion and fire  at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
  • Medics place an injured miner into an ambulance after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Depo Photos)
  • Rescue workers and ambulances at the entrance of the mine after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, in western Turkey, Tuesday, May 13, 2014.  An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least one miner Tuesday and left up to 300 workers trapped underground, a Turkish official said. Twenty people were rescued from the mine in the town of Soma in Manisa province but one later died in the hospital, Soma administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told reporters. The town is 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. (AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

Rescuers struggled to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground yesterday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 201 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma, some 155 miles south of Istanbul, at the time of the accident and 363 of them had been rescued so far.

At least 80 miners were injured, including four who were in serious condition, Yildiz told reporters in Soma, as he oversaw the rescue operation involving more than 400 rescuers.

The accident occurred when the workers were preparing for a shift change, officials said, which likely raised the casualty toll because there were more miners inside the mine than usual.

Yildiz said the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning and feared the death toll could end up much higher than the latest count of 201 workers.

The rescue effort is “reaching a critical stage,” Yildiz said, with more deaths likely as time passes.

Earlier, the minister said the rescue operations were hindered because the mine had not completely been cleared of gas. 

Nurettin Akcul, a mining trade union leader, told HaberTurk television that Turkey was likely facing its worst mining accident ever.

“Time is working against us. We fear that the numbers could rise further,” Yildiz said. “We have to finish this (rescue operation) by dawn. I have to say that our pain, our trouble could increase.”

Earlier Yildiz said some of the workers were 460 yards deep inside the mine. News reports said the workers could not use lifts to get out of the mine because the explosion had caused a power cut.

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