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Turkey coal mine live: Death toll rises to 282, 150 still trapped

11:50 am: Death toll rises to 282, 150 still trapped

A Turkish minister says rescue teams have recovered eight more victims from a coal mine in western Turkey, raising the death toll in Turkey's worst mining accident to 282, Associated Press reported.

Even as hopes for some 150 other miners trapped underground faded, Taner Yildiz told reporters Thursday that rescue efforts were focusing on two areas inside the mine.

11:14 am: Turkey's public workers union calls for a strike

Desperation and anger were rising as hopes fell for scores of workers still trapped in the collapsed coal mine in the western town of Soma in Manisa province.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised investigations would be launched into the causes of the disaster but rejected claims of government culpability, saying that "such accidents happen"

Hundreds of distraught family and friends gathered near the building where Erdogan gave his press conference were outraged, with some kicking his vehicle.

Public anger also spilled onto the streets.

Police used tear gas and water canon to disperse between 3,000 and 4,000 protesters in Ankara's downtown Kizilay Square, as well as thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul.

Earlier in the day, they also used tear gas against around 800 students marching on the energy ministry, and 50 protesters who threw eggs at the mining research directorate in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, Turkey's biggest union has called for a massive strike amid mounting anger over the country's worst mining accident, which claimed at least 274 lives with many more still trapped underground, AFP reported.

"Those who keep up with privatisation... policies, who threaten workers' lives to reduce costs... are the culprits of the Soma massacre and they must be held accountable," Turkey's Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK), which represents 240,000 employees, said on its website.

7:19 am: Death toll reaches 274 making it worst such disaster in Turkish history

Amid wails of grief and anger, rescue workers coated in grime trudged repeatedly out of a coal mine Wednesday with stretchers of bodies that swelled the death toll to 274 — the worst such disaster in Turkish history.

Hopes faded for 150 others still trapped deep underground in smoldering tunnels filled with toxic gases.

 Turkey coal mine live: Death toll rises to 282, 150 still trapped

Rescue workers carry the dead body of a miner from the mine in Soma, western Turkey. AP

Anti-government protests broke out in the mining town of Soma, as well as Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan heckled as he tried to show concern. Protesters shouted "Murderer!" and "Thief!" and Erdogan was forced to seek refuge in a supermarket, surrounded by police.

Tensions were high as hundreds of relatives and miners jostled outside the mine's entrance Wednesday, waiting for news amid a heavy police presence. Rows of women wailed uncontrollably and men knelt sobbing or simply stared in disbelief as rescue workers removed body after body, some charred beyond recognition.

The last miner rescued alive emerged from the mine around dawn and the first burials took place later Wednesday.

--End of updates for 14 May--

11:09 pm: Death toll rises to 245 in coal mine disaster

Anger and grief boiled over into a violent protest Wednesday in the western Turkish town of Soma, where officials said at least 245 miners died in a coal mine explosion and fire.

Nearly 450 other miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear in one of the world's deadliest mining disasters in decades.

20:00 pm: Violent protests against PM erupts after 238 die in coal mine disaster

A violent protest has erupted in the Turkish city of Soma where at least 238 coal miners have died after a mine explosion.

Many in the crowd expressed anger on Wednesday at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government. Rocks were being thrown and some people were shouting that Erdogan was a "murderer" and a "thief."

The fate of an estimated 120 other miners still remained unclear in one of Turkey's worst mining disasters.

19:09 pm: Official death toll in coal mine disaster rises to 238, says PM

The death toll in a coal mine disaster in western Turkey rose to 238 on Wednesday, with 80 more injured, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

"According to the first indications, 238 of our workers lost their lives and 80 were injured," Erdogan told a news conference after visiting the mine in Soma, about 480 kilometres (298 miles) southwest of Istanbul.

18:50 pm: Death toll rises to 232 in coal mine disaster

Women wailed uncontrollably, men knelt sobbing and others just stared in disbelief outside a coal mine in western Turkey as rescue workers removed a steady stream of bodies from an underground explosion and fire that killed at least 232 workers. The fate of more than 100 miners remained unclear in one of Turkey's worst mining disasters.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan postponed a foreign trip and gave an updated death toll figure during a visit to the coal mine in Soma, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul. The energy minister said the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

17:39 pm: Government declares three days of mourning

The Prime Minister's office declared a three-day mourning for the 205 victims of the coal mine explosion.

A total of 787 people were inside the mine in Soma, 250 km south of Istanbul, when the disaster occurred Tuesday. As many as 363 people have been accounted for so far, including at least 205 who were killed in the tragedy, Xinhua reported. Hundreds still remain trapped in the mines.

1:51 pm: Four more dead as toll rises to 205

As rescuers try to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground four more found dead bringing the total to 205, Associated Press reported.

Talking about the rescuing more than 200 trapped in the mine, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said: "Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing."

11:37 am: Death toll rises to 201, hundreds remain trapped

Rescuers desperately raced against time to reach more than 200 miners trapped underground Wednesday after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey, which killed at least 201 workers, authorities said, in one of the worst mining disasters in Turkish history.

A rescued miner hugs a relative in front of the coal mine site in Soma. Reuters

A rescued miner hugs a relative in front of the coal mine site in Soma. Reuters

Associated Press reported that Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma, some 250 kilometers south of Istanbul, at the time of the explosion and 363 of them had been rescued so far.

At least 80 miners were injured, including four who were in serious condition, Yildiz told reporters in Soma, as he oversaw the rescue operation involving more than 400 rescuers.

"Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing," Yildiz said.

The minister said the fire was still blazing inside the mine, 18 hours after the blast. The air around the mine was still smoky.

7:29 am: Over 150 dead, hundreds trapped in coal mine explosion

An explosion and fire in a coal mine in western Turkey killed at least 151 miners and trapped hundreds more with the death toll expected to rise in the country's worst mining accident for more than two decades.

Four miners were killed and as many as 300 trapped after a mine collapse in the western Turkish city of Manisa. AFP Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 workers had been in the mine in Soma, around 120 km (75 miles) northeast of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, when the blast occurred, Reuters reported.

An injured miner is carried to an ambulance in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa. Reuters

An injured miner is carried to an ambulance in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa. Reuters

Carbon monoxide poisoning killed most of those confirmed dead, while another 76 were injured and hospitalised, he told reporters at the scene of the disaster.

Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine to keep those trapped by the blaze alive, as thousands of family members and fellow workers, clamoring for information, gathered outside the town's hospital. A line of police held back the crowd as ambulances arrived.

The explosion, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault, triggered a power outage, making the elevators unusable and leaving hundreds of miners stranded some two kilometres (miles) underground. It was not immediately clear if the fire had been isolated.

Cengiz Ergun, mayor of Manisa province where Soma is located, cited health officials at the entrance to the mine as saying 157 bodies had been retrieved.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a day trip to Albania, scheduled for Wednesday, and would instead go to the site of the disaster, sources in his office said. "Rescue efforts for our brothers in the mine are ongoing ... God willing, in the coming hours, I hope to receive uplifting news," Erdogan said during a speech at a ceremony in the capital Ankara, before the extent of the disaster started becoming clear.

Because the explosion took place during a change in shifts, there was uncertainty about the number of miners inside, but Turkey's disaster management agency AFAD put the figure at more than 200.

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Updated Date: May 15, 2014 11:57:52 IST