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The death toll rises in one of Turkey's worst mining disasters

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The death toll rises in one of Turkey's worst mining disasters

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An explosion and fire in a coal mine in western Turkey has killed at least 200 people and trapped scores more in one of the country’s worst mining accidents.

The blast is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault which then triggered a power cut making the lifts unusable, leaving miners stranded some two kilometres underground.

Those who are known to have died were either burned or were poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Rescue workers immediately pumped oxygen down the mine to keep those trapped by the blaze alive however, the operation to reach survivors was briefly stopped after a second fire in the ventilation system.

Nearly 800 workers had been in the mine in Soma, while lies around 120 kilometres north east of the coastal city of Izmir.

Anxious relatives rushed to the pit head with all those who could trying to help.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cancelled other commitments to travel to the site of the disaster.