Mining disaster: Çavuşoğlu thanks Greek FM Dendias for condolences

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu thanked his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias for his condolences after the deadly coal mine accident in Turkey, in a tweet on Saturday.

"Thank you dear Nikos for your message of condolences," said the Turkish minister.

The Turkish Embassy in Athens also expressed its thanks, tweeting in English:

"We extend our gratitude to the honorable members of the Greek Government as well as the allied people of Greece for their messages of condolences and their offers to extend a helping hand in the face of the tragic mining accident in Bartın," followed by the flag icons of Turkey and Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent a message about the deadly explosion at the mine in northwestern Turkey, from which, according to the last count, 28 people lost their lives on Saturday morning.

In his Twitter post, made in English, the prime minister initially expressed his sadness over the explosion and the deaths it caused in Turkey's Bardin province.

At the same time, the Greek Prime Minister declares that "Greece is ready to send assistance immediately to help in the search for survivors."

The post of Kyriakos Mitsotakis about the explosion in the mine

Updating the death toll, Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also tweeted that 11 others pulled out alive were being treated in hospital after one of Turkey’s deadliest industrial accidents in years struck.

“We are facing a truly regretful situation,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told reporters earlier after urgently flying to the small coal mining town of Amastris (Ἄμαστρις, Turkish Amasra) on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

“In all, 110 of our brothers were working [underground]. Some of them came out on their own, and some of them were rescued,” he said.

Soylu also confirmed early reports that nearly 50 miners remained trapped in two separate areas between 300 and 350 metres below ground.

Television images showed anxious crowds — some with tears in their eyes — congregating around a damaged white building near the entrance to the pit in search of news for their friends and loved ones.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would cancel all his other arrangements and fly to the scene of the accident on Saturday.

“Our hope is that the loss of life will not increase further, that our miners will be found alive,” Erdoğan said in a tweet.

“All of our efforts are aimed in this direction.”

Amastris mayor Recai Çakır said many of those who survived suffered “serious injuries”.

The blast occurred moments before sunset and the rescue effort was being impeded by the dark.

Turkey’s Maden Is mining workers’ union attributed the blast to a build-up of methane gas.

But other officials said it was premature to draw definitive conclusions over the cause of the accident.

Rescuers sent in reinforcements from surrounding villages to help search for signs of life.

Television images showed paramedics giving oxygen to the miners who had climbed out, then rushing them to the nearest hospitals.

The local governor said a team of more than 70 rescuers had managed to reach a point in the pit some 250 metres below.

It was not immediately clear if the rescuers would be able to come any closer to the trapped workers or what was blocking their further passage.

Turkey’s AFAD disaster management service said the initial spark that caused the blast appeared to have come from a malfunctioning transformer.

It later withdrew that report and said methane gas had ignited for “unknown reasons”.

The local public prosecutor’s office said it was treating the incident as an accident and launching a formal investigation.

Turkey suffered its deadliest coal mining disaster in 2014 when 301 workers died in a blast in the western town of Soma.

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