At least 22 people died and dozens were trapped and wounded in a blast inside a state-owned coal mine in northern Turkey on Friday night.
Rescuers are trying to free 49 miners trapped in a “risky” section, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said, speaking at the blast site, adding that there were a total of 110 people inside the mine in Turkey’s Black Sea coastal city of Bartin.
Among the 17 people who were transported to hospitals, eight are in intensive care, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Footage by the private Demiroren News Agency showed ambulances and rescuers rushing to the site, which was cordoned off by the authorities.
No cause is yet known for the blast, which left miners stranded as deep as 350 meters (1,150 feet) underground, Bartin officials said.
Soylu and Energy Minister Fatih Donmez traveled to coordinate the rescue efforts. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he canceled his trip to Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir scheduled for Saturday, and that he would instead travel to the disaster site.
Describing the blast as a “saddening incident” on Twitter, Erdogan added that three Turkish prosecutors were currently investigating and called on the public to disregard “provocative” comments.
The country’s deadliest mine disaster in 2014, which killed more than 300 people in western Turkey, triggered huge public outcry against Erdogan's government. The second-deadliest mine disaster took place in 1992, when an explosion in northern Turkey killed more than 250 people.