At least two workers were killed and 20 others injured in an explosion at a coal mine in northwestern Turkey on Friday, the country’s health minister said.
Scores of workers were still stranded underground in separate sites 300 and 350 meters below sea level, as of Friday evening.
The accident occurred at 6 p.m. local time in the town of Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin.
Television images showed hundreds of people — many crying — gathering around a damaged building near the entrance to the pit.
The cause of the blast at the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine remains unknown.
It is currently under investigation.
Several rescue teams were dispatched to the area, including from neighbouring provinces, according to Turkey’s disaster management agency, AFAD.
There are conflicting numbers on the number of those trapped.
Local governor Nurtac Arslan told reporters that five people were trapped 350 metres below ground and another 44 at another location 300 meters below ground, while the mining trade union Maden-Is reported 35 people still trapped.
Eight miners had managed to crawl out of the damaged pit on their own and were now receiving medical assistance, Arslan added.
Maden Is said a build-up of methane gas was behind the blast, but other officials said it was too soon to draw conclusions over the cause of the accident.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the two fatalities on Twitter. He said 20 other people were injured but did not provide information on their condition.
In Turkey’s worst mine disaster, a total of 301 people died in 2014.
It was caused by a fire inside a coal mine in the town of Soma, in western Turkey.