Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri expressed his condolences to Turkish people and government over the country’s worst ever mine disaster, which has claimed at least 282 lives and left scores more injured.
In a message addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Jahangiri extended his deepest sympathy to “the friendly nation of Turkey” and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
According to Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, the toll could rise with many more still trapped underground. He told reporters 787 workers were in the Soma coal mine when an explosion hit a power unit.
Soma is 120 km (75 miles) northeast of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir.
Most of the victims were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, Yildiz added. An additional 80 people were injured and hospitalized, he said, four of them in critical condition.
The mayor of Soma, a district in Manisa, also said the explosion was caused by an electrical fault, Reuters reported. The blast, which occurred about 1.2 miles below the surface, reportedly disabled an elevator in the mine shaft. Nearly 150 miners are still unaccounted for. The workers are trapped some 4 kilometers from the exit.