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At Least 20 Workers Killed In Turkish Mine Explosion

At least 20 mine workers were killed by an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday, according to a member of the Turkish parliament. Hundreds more remain trapped.

"Twenty workers were killed and 30 were wounded in the accident," the lawmaker, Muzaffer Yurttas, told Turkish television news channel NTV. "They died of choking and burns."

The accident occurred in Soma, which is in the western province of Manisa. A regional governor told NTV hundreds of miners were working when an electrical fault caused an explosion.

"Emergency services are preparing to evacuate between 300 and 400 miners believed to be still trapped 6,600 feet underground, according to the region's chief firefighter, Temel Korkmaz and district Governor Mehmet Bahattin Atci," Bloomberg News reported. "The mine's elevators aren't functioning as a result of the fire, the officials said."

The accident was the latest in a long series that have plagued the country's growing mining industries. Between 1991 and 2008, 2,554 Turkish miners lost their lives, according to a supplement published in the British Mining Journal last year, with one accident in 1992 causing more than 260 deaths.

During a six-month period in 2009 and 2010, about 60 workers were killed in three separate explosions.

Last November, about 300 mine workers in the Black Sea Province of Zonguldak barricaded themselves inside a coal mine to protest poor working conditions and a lack of safety measures.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

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