Soma, Turkey, May 16 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in Turkey's worst coal mine disaster has risen to 292 after eight more bodies were found in the western town of Soma, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said late on Friday.
Yildiz told reporters that rescue teams are now trying to save another 10 workers who are still trapped underground.
Earlier he said that a fire in the mine that was hampering rescue efforts had been largely extinguished. The number of victims may reach 300 people.
According to the minister, the cause of the disaster is yet to be determined, but it's believed that an electrical fault, which resulted in an explosion and fire, is to blame.
He stressed that any negligence on the part of officials or the company that manages the mine will be punished.
However, the mine's operator Soma Komur denied any allegations of negligence, saying they had all worked very hard and not seen such an incident in 20 years.
The disaster has triggered nationwide protests against the government in the past three days.
Hundreds of women have staged a protest in Istanbul demanding the government to step down. The Republic Women Association also charged that the government should bear the responsibility for those who were killed in the coal mine blast.
Turkey has announced a three-day mourning period for the victims.
Turkey currently has some 740 coal mines and more than 48,000 miners. Mine accidents in the country have killed over 3,000 people and injured more than 100,000 since 1941. Nearly one in every ten accidents at work occurs in those mines.