UPDATE: Turkey mine disaster ignites angry protests
Hopes faded of finding more survivors in a coal mine in western Turkey on Wednesday, where 238 workers were confirmed killed and 120 more are still feared to be trapped.
Fire knocked out power and shut down ventilation shafts and elevators on Tuesday afternoon.
After an all-night rescue effort, emergency workers pumped oxygen into the mine in Soma to try to keep those trapped alive.
Initial reports suggested an electrical fault caused the blaze, but Mr Mehmet Torun, a board member and former head of the Chamber of Mining Engineers who was at the scene, said a disused coal seam had heated up, expelling carbon monoxide through the mine’s tunnels and galleries.
“They are ventilating the shafts but carbon monoxide kills in 3 or 5 minutes,” he told Reuters by telephone. “Unless we have a major miracle, we shouldn’t expect anyone to emerge alive at this point,” he said.
Thousands of family members and co-workers gathered outside the town’s hospital searching for information on their loved ones.
Anguish has quickly turned to anger over the deadly fire at the mine about 480 km southwest of Istanbul.
Around 800 protesters shouted slogans against the government and attempted to march from the Middle East Technical University to the energy ministry.
They blame Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government for ignoring repeated warnings about the safety of the country’s mines.
Source: The Guardian, Reuters, NBC News