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Nineteen killed in gas blast at western Turkey mine

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High concentrations of gas delayed rescue efforts

Nineteen miners have been killed in a suspected methane gas explosion at a coal mine in western Turkey.

The explosion happened at a depth of more than 200m (700 feet), on Thursday night causing a shaft to collapse and starting a fire.

Six bodies were recovered on Friday morning. Turkish media, quoting the country's labour minister, says 13 others who were trapped are also dead.

Rescue efforts had been delayed by the high concentration of gas in the mine.

But Labour Minister Omer Dincer said: "Rescue teams have reached the accident area. Unfortunately, all the workers are dead."

Emergency teams had pumped air into the mine - in the village of Devecikonagi, in the western province of Bursa - to try to disperse the methane.

Local media reported that six rescuers had to be treated in hospital after they were overcome by fumes.

Heavy fog in the area had prevented experts being airlifted in by helicopter.

The BBC's Istanbul correspondent says the safety record of Turkey's coal mining industry lags behind that of most industrial countries.

Its worst mining disaster came in 1992 when 270 miners were killed near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak.



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