Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez has announced that a coal mine in the Black Sea province of Bartın has been closed on Oct. 16 after rescuers found the body of the last missing miner, bringing the death toll to 41 from a methane blast.
The blast ripped through the mine near the small coal district of Amasra shortly before sunset on Oct. 14.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived at the site on Oct. 15 afternoon to announce the last missing person had been found dead.
Erdoğan went on to attend funerals in nearby villages, including Makaracı, which lost four men.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had reported 58 miners had survived the blast, “either by themselves or thanks to rescuers” and 28 had been injured.
The first injury-free survivors to reach the surface had insisted on joining the rescue efforts which brought in other miners from across the region.
Adem Usluoğlu was among the first of those volunteers to arrive.
“Some have been burnt alive by the force of the explosion,” he told AFP. “My heart is terribly heavy.”
Anxious crowds, some with tears in their eyes, congregated near the entrance to the pit and hoped for news of their loved ones. One woman in shock had to be evacuated, others prayed at the barriers that closed off the site.
Türkiye’s Maden is mining workers’ union attributed the blast to a build-up of methane gas.
Television footage showed paramedics giving oxygen to the miners who had climbed out, then rushing them to the nearest hospitals.
Late on Oct. 16, Dönmez declared that the mine was closed for “a period.”
“Rescue teams fight against an ongoing fire inside the mine,” the energy minister said and added: “To control the area, we decided to close the mine.”
Once the fire will be put out, a “damage assessment work will be conducted.”
The minister highlighted that “until then, we are pausing production of coal in the Amasra mine.”
Türkiye suffered its deadliest coal mining disaster in 2014 when 301 workers died in a blast and ensuing fire that brought down a mining shaft in the western town of Soma.
Five mine managers were found guilty of negligence and handed long jail terms of up to 22 years.
Hurriyet Daily News