Turkey mine: Accident traps workers underground

Rescuers in Turkey use pipes to pump out water Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescuers are using pipes to pump out the water

At least 18 workers have been trapped underground after an accident at a coal mine in southern Turkey, officials say.

An area of the pit in Ermenek, Karaman province, was flooded with water while miners were working. The miners are said to be stuck 300m (980ft) underground.

More than 20 miners had been rescued, Karaman Governor Murat Koca said.

Turkey suffered its worst mining disaster earlier this year, when a fire killed 301 workers at a mine in Soma.

A mine official told Turkish media the trapped workers' chances of survival were slim unless they had managed to reach a safety gallery.

Sahin Uyar also said the rescuers had yet to make contact with the miners.

Turkey's emergency management agency, AFAD, said a broken pipe in the mine caused the flooding, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan are heading to the mine to oversee the operation.

The deaths at Soma in May raised questions about safety standards in Turkish mines, with hundreds of miners killed since 2000.

Anti-government protests also followed the disaster, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, under fire for what demonstrators saw as an insensitive response to the deaths.

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