AT least four miners are feared dead and as many

AT least four miners are feared dead and as many as 400 others trapped after a coal mine collapsed in the western Turkish province of Manisa, a lawmaker says.

Having initially stated that 20 miners had been killed in the accident, Manisa MP Muzaffer Yurttas, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, later told CNN Turk only four had died and 16 had been hospitalised.

Fire officials were desperately trying to pump clean air into the mine shaft for those who remain trapped some two kilometres below the surface and four kilometres from the entrance.

The mine collapsed in the Soma district and was caused by an explosion following an electric fault, a regional governor told NTV.

Local media said there were 580 people trapped in the mine at the time of the explosion but many had escaped.

“I don’t want to give any numbers. Our priority is to reach our workers underground,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

“Four separate rescue teams are currently working in the mine. The fire is creating a problem but oxygen is being pumped into the mine shafts that weren’t affected.”

Temel Korkmaz, head of the town fire’s department, said an initial rescue team was able to enter part of the mine to rescue 30 wounded, who were taken to a nearby hospital.

Yurttas said there were between 300 and 400 people still trapped. Other estimates put the number between 200 and 300.

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