The death toll from a coal mine explosion in northern Turkey has risen to at least 28 people and rescue efforts continue as a fire burns at the site.
There were 110 miners working in the shaft when the explosion occurred on Friday evening at the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine in the town of Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin.
Energy minister Fatih Durmaz said rescue efforts continue for 15 people, with the majority of them in the mine’s gallery where a fire still burns.
“It’s not a huge fire, but to get there safely, the fire and carbon monoxide gas must be eliminated,” he told journalists at the site.
Four or five other miners had been trapped in cave-ins, Mr Durmaz added.
The minister earlier said that preliminary assessments indicated the explosion was likely to have been caused by firedamp, which is a reference to flammable gases found in coal mines.
Health minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 28 miners were dead and 11 rescued miners are in hospital in Bartin and Istanbul. Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said 58 people had been rescued alive.
Ambulances are on standby at the site.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Amasra on Saturday.
He said three prosecutors had been assigned to investigate the incident.
“Our hope is that the loss of life does not increase further, that our miners are saved,” Mr Erdogan said in a statement. “All our efforts are geared in that direction.”
In Turkey’s worst mine disaster, a total of 301 people died in 2014 in a fire inside a coal mine in the town of Soma, in western Turkey.