20 dead and hundreds trapped after explosion in Turkish coal mine

An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey has killed at least 20 workers and left close to 300 others trapped some 2 km deep inside the mine, authorities said Tuesday.

Private NTV television reports (in Turkish) that at least 20 miners have been confirmed dead after a fire broke out following an explosion in a power distribution unit, which caused the mine's elevator to stop working.

20 dead and hundreds trapped after explosion in Turkish coal mineLocal administrator Mehmet Bahattin Atci told the TV station that only 20 people had been rescued from the mine in the town of Soma, in the province of Manisa. One later died in the hospital.

He said there was dense smoke in the mine that was hindering the rescue effort. Oxygen is being pumped into the mine to help trapped workers struggling to breathe, Atci added.

It is believed that 580 workers were inside the mine when the fire broke out. Around 280 have escaped so far, while the others remain trapped.

Accidents like this are common in Turkey, known for poor safety conditions at mining operations.