Turkey: Rescuers step up efforts to reach trapped miners
18 mine workers still trapped in the flooded mine, but rescue efforts are held up by water and mud.

Turkish search-and-rescue teams have opened a third location for drilling in an effort to rescue 18 miners trapped in a flooded mine in central Karaman province.

"We will drill 170-meter deep down from a hill and establish a separate intervention location," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters in the Ermenek district of central Karaman province, some 400 kilometers south of Ankara on Thursday.

The minister said this effort would last for at least three or four days. He explained that the rescue teams' efforts to get the water out have been held up by a thick mud buildup inside the mine.

"Around a seven-to-eight meter mud layer should be taken out," the minister said.

Yildiz also criticized those who called the accident in the mine a "natural disaster." "This is not a natural disaster and we have to share everything truthfully with public opinion," he said.

"There is blame, as a natural disaster did not happen and the blame will be placed after judicial and administrative investigations," the minister said. But he said that the priority is now to recover the trapped workers.

The minister said that the exact cause of the accident would be determined after the mine had been penetrated and cleaned.

Earlier on Thursday, Yildiz said the water inside the collapsed coal mine began to flow out after teams deployed a second pump.

Turkey's Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan also remained on the spot to monitor the situation, and stated the rescue efforts would last longer than expected as the water caused a thick mud layer inside the mine.

Search teams are trying to move inside the mud, said Elvan, but he warned that the progress through the mud would be slow.

The latest figures from the minister indicated that there were 34 miners in total, out of which 18 remain trapped.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey said a 537-person team was on site for the search-and-rescue mission, as well as two aircrafts, 25 ambulances, three helicopters, 25 ambulances and 18 rescue vehicles.

Turkey ranks first in Europe and third in the world for fatal work accidents, according to International Labor Organization figures.

The organization says 18 insured laborers out of 100,000 die every year in Turkey in work accidents, a number seven times greater than the EU average of 2.5.

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Last Modified: 2014-10-31 11:15:33
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