Turkish minister says 30 workers trapped after coal mine blast

08:41, May 18, 2010      

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Turkey's labor minister said Monday 30 workers were trapped underground after a coal mine blast in the northern province of Zonguldak earlier in the day, the semi- official Anatolia news agency reported.

The figure differs from the number previously reported by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, which said on its website 32 were trapped after the explosion hit the Karadon coal mine in the Black Sea province.

Labor Minister Omer Dincer was quoted by Anatolia as saying the incident could be a gas explosion but authorities still lacked information about how it happened.

"All we can do is to keep our hopes alive and pray for them," he said.

Zonguldak governor Erdal Ata said another 11 miners who were injured in the blast had been rushed to a nearby hospital, according to Anatolia.

Hurriyet Daily News said earlier Monday the explosion might have been caused by a malfunction in the electrical system, citing acting general manager Mahmut Ozcelik of the Turkish Anthracite Coal Foundation, which runs the mine.

Turkey has seen several mine accidents in recent months, with 13 miners killed in a gas explosion in a coal mine in the northwestern Balikesir province in February and 19 workers killed when a coal mine in northwest Bursa province caved in after the workers set off some dynamite last December.

In Turkey's worst mining disaster, a gas explosion killed 270 workers in Zonguldak in 1992.



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