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Turkey mine tragedy: Death toll reaches 205, ‘desperate search’ on for missing hundreds

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Turkey has declared three days of national mourning after 205 people were killed in an explosion at a coal mine, one of Turkey’s worst industrial disasters, the prime minister’s office said Wednesday.

“Three days of national mourning have been declared as of May 13 due to the mine disaster in Soma” in western Turkey, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. Flags will be flown at half mast, it added.

The toll came as rescue operations continued overnight following Tuesday’s disaster when a total of 787 mineworkers were trapped inside the mine. Hundreds of people remained underground and four of those rescued were seriously injured, said Energy Minister Taner Yildiz.

“According to unofficial information, we have 157 dead and 75 injured workers,” Xinhua quoted Manisa Mayor Cengiz Ergun as saying in a live broadcast.

Turkey’s disaster and emergency management presidency said in a statement that the explosion occurred in a privately-owned mine in the Soma district of Turkey’s Manisa province.

The Soma Coal Mining Company, the mine’s operator, also issued a statement confirming casualties, but did not give the exact number of workers trapped in the mine.

The operator said that they inspected the mine’s facilities only two months ago and found nothing against regulations.

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