Turkey coal mine accident in pictures: Powerful images that reveal scale of the disaster

Soma

Rescuers desperately raced against time to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 205 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 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul, at the time of the explosion and 363 of them had been rescued so far.

“Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing,” Yildiz said.

Turkey's worst mining disaster was a 1992 gas explosion that killed 263 workers near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.

As the images below show, bodies were brought out on stretchers, with rescue workers pulling blankets back from the faces of the dead to give jostling crowds of anxious family members a chance to identify victims.

Hope mixed with despair and elation as good news and bad reached waiting relatives.

One elderly man wearing a prayer cap wailed after he recognized one of the dead, and police restrained him from climbing into an ambulance with the body.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared three days of national mourning, ordering flags to be lowered to half-staff. Erdogan postponed a one-day visit to Albania and planned to visit Soma instead.

Fifty-seven people were confirmed as injured, Yildiz told reporters in Soma, where he was overseeing operations by more than 400 rescuers. Earlier he had put the injured total at 80, including four in serious condition.

AP

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