An electrical fire that triggered an explosion Tuesday at a western Turkish coal mine has killed at least four people and left hundreds trapped inside,
The bodies of four miners were recovered and it appears they died from burns and suffocation, but many more are feared dead. Of the 500 workers believed to be at the site, 30 were rescued and taken to the hospital, reports The Telegraph. Reports say that about 400 miners could still be trapped.
The confusion about the exact number trapped inside the mine stems from the explosion occurring as shifts either began or ended. It is believed that many trapped inside could be up to 2.5 miles from any exit.
Clean air was being pumped into the mine by fire officials, with the regional labor union chairman, Tamer Kucukgencay, saying, “They are pumping oxygen into the mine, but the fire is still burning.”
According to CNN, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that the accident seemed to center around a transformer, which exploded.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey is working hard “to rescue our stranded brothers.”
The Telegraph notes that Turkey’s coal mines are infamous for their poor safety conditions, leading to frequent accidents. Issues are rampant enough that in November about 300 workers protested the conditions by barricading themselves in a coal mine.