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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Turkish mine gas blast kills 17
Rescue workers carry bodies of miners
Rescue workers have removed the bodies from the mine
Seventeen people have been killed in a gas explosion underground at a coalmine in western Turkey.

The power of the blast 100 metres below the surface caused a mine shaft to collapse at the site near Dursunbey, in Balikesir province.

Turkey's Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said rescuers were able to reach other miners who were in another area.

He said rescuers were still trying to reach three miners. Five men were wounded and 35 escaped unhurt.

An investigation is under way to discover what caused the blast at the privately-owned mine, but the minister has already ruled out negligence.

Checks made

He said the company was one of the most experienced in Turkey and all the necessary government inspections had been carried out.

"Unfortunately these are possible accidents in mining," Mr Guler said. "They measured the methane gas level just a few minutes before the blast, but the gas level apparently suddenly increased."

All the miners who died came from local villages. Their funerals will be held later on Friday.

A similar accident last year killed 18 miners. Another man was killed last month.

But the energy minister denied any systematic problem with Turkey's mines.


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