World Bulletin / News Desk
The death toll from Tuesday's coal mine disaster in western Turkey has reached 284, energy minister Taner Yildiz said Thursday evening.
"217 dead miners' bodies have been given to their families," Yildiz told the press at the scene of the rescue efforts near the mine entrance.
Also, he added that in the last 12 hours no miner has been rescued alive.
"We have only three miners left in hospital in non-critical condition. All others have been released," said Yildiz at a press conference in the province of Manisa on Thursday.
Yildiz said all the bodies of those who died were being delivered to their families.
"Eight other bodies of our brothers are left to be delivered to their families," Yildiz added, and called on family members to make contact with the authorities.
The Energy Minister, who has been conducting the search-and-rescue operation since the explosion broke out in the mine on Tuesday.
He said that, during the disaster, the fire had spread to a 250-meter-long conveyor belt which increased the level of heat in the mine.
The exact cause of the blast has yet to be officially announced but it is suspected that an explosion and fire followed an electrical fault.
Yildiz earlier ruled out the possibility of firedamp or a methane gas explosion, saying the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Turkey's Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said 27 injured miners were receiving medical treatment at nearby hospitals and those who are in good condition will be released from hospital.
The exact cause of the blast has yet to be officially announced but it is suspected that an explosion and fire followed an electrical fault. Yildiz ruled out the possibility of firedamp or a methane gas explosion, saying the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Turkey has declared three days of national mourning, during which flags will fly at half-mast and parliament will be closed for the victims of what is being described as one of the worst mining accidents in the country's history.
Mines and stone quarries appear as some of the most dangerous places for Turkish workers, according to government statistics.
More than 3,000 people have died and more than 100,000 have been injured in mining accidents since 1941 in Turkey, figures from Turkey's statistics agency show.Last Mod: 16 Mayıs 2014, 09:29