ANKARA, Turkey – An explosion inside a coal mine in northern Turkey killed at least 25 people, local officials announced, as rescuers working overnight were trying to bring dozens more trapped to the surface.

The explosion occurred at 6:45 pm at the TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu state mine in the city of Amasra, in the coastal province of Bartin, on the Black Sea.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said a preliminary assessment indicated that the explosion was likely caused by firestone, a reference to flammable gases found in coal mines.

Miners transport the body of a victim to Amasra, in the coastal province of Bartin, Turkey, on the Black Sea on Friday, October 14, 2022.
(Photo by Nilay Meryem Comlek / Depo via AP)

There were 110 people in the mine at the time of the explosion, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who traveled to Amasra to coordinate the rescue operation, told reporters. Most of the workers were able to evacuate after the blast, but 49 were trapped in a higher-risk area of ​​the facility, the minister said.

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Soylu did not provide a number for those still trapped, saying some of the 49 had been rescued.

“We are faced with an image that we truly regret, that we regret having to share (with the public),” Soylu said.

A view of the mine entrance in Amasra, in the coastal province of Bartin, Turkey, on the Black Sea, Friday, October 14, 2022.

A view of the mine entrance in Amasra, in the coastal province of Bartin, Turkey, on the Black Sea, Friday, October 14, 2022.
(IHA via AP)

Bartin’s governor’s office said 25 were killed in the blast. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported at least 17 injured, including eight being treated in the intensive care unit.

Several rescue teams were dispatched to the area, including from neighboring provinces, Turkey’s disaster management agency AFAD said.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he would cancel a scheduled visit to the southeastern city of Diyarbakir and instead go to Amasra to coordinate the rescue operation. He said three prosecutors had been assigned to investigate the incident.

“Our hope is that the loss of life will not increase further, that our miners will be saved,” Erdogan said in a statement. “All our efforts are directed in that direction.”

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic on Thursday 6 October 2022.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic on Thursday 6 October 2022.
(Photo AP / Darko Bandic)

Private news agency DHA quoted a worker who told Governor Bartin Nurtac Arslan that he got out of the mine by his own means. He described feeling “pressure” but said he couldn’t see anything due to the dust and dirt.

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People rushed to the mine to hear from friends or colleagues who were trapped, the DHA reported.

In Turkey’s worst mining disaster, a total of 301 people died in 2014 in a fire inside a coal mine in the western Turkish city of Soma.

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