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At Least 301 Dead In Turkey's Deadliest Coal Mining Disaster

Updated: At least 301 have died in the country's worst mining accident. Protests against the government erupted across Turkey on Wednesday.

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Updated — May 17, 10:54 a.m. ET: Turkey's energy minister says rescue workers have finished their search after retrieving two final bodies of miners, The Associated Press reports.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Saturday that the death toll from the May 13 disaster is now 301. He said 485 miners escaped or were rescued.

An explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey on Tuesday, May 13, has killed at least 301 people in what has become the country's worst mining disaster.

(AP Photo/IHA)

The death toll of 301 people was confirmed by Turkey's energy minister.

The White House issued a statement on the tragedy on Wednesday, May 14:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Turkey today in the wake of a coal mine explosion in Soma, in which some 200 have been killed and hundreds more remain trapped. On behalf of the American people, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our best wishes for the safe exit of the remaining miners. Turkey is a close and longstanding friend and ally of the United States. We are ready to assist the Turkish government if necessary, and we will continue to stand together in this time of tragedy."

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was booed by angry crowds after a speech in Soma in which he said "these things happen." Many called on the government to resign after its failure to enforce safety regulations at mines.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, is surrounded by security members as he visits the coal mine in Soma, Turkey, Wednesday, May 14.

A violent protest erupted in Soma where crowds expressed anger at Erdogan's government. The protests soon spread to other parts of Turkey, including Istanbul and Ankara.

AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Riot police try to stop protesters who were attacking the Soma offices of the Prime Minister's Justice and Development Party during his visit to the coal mine in Soma, on Wednesday.

The Turkish government declared three days of national mourning following one of the country's worst mining disasters.

OZAN KOSE/AFP / Getty Images

Protesters paint their faces as miners and a hold a newspaper "read: black news" at Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul on May 14.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Wednesday that 787 people were working inside at the time of the accident and 363 of them had been rescued so far.


A miner's father kisses his son who was rescued after the mine explosion.

The accident occurred during a shift change, officials said, which likely raised the casualty toll because there were more miners inside the mine than usual.

AP Photo/Depo Photos

The condition of the trapped miners is unknown. Rescue teams pumped fresh air into the mine, but their efforts were hampered by the mile-long tunnels that make up the mine.

The death toll could jump dramatically, according to authorities who were making arrangements to set up a cold storage facility for the corpses of the miners.

AP Photo/Depo Photos

Family members of the trapped miners gather near the entrance of the mine.

Here's a video from AP of the rescue efforts.

View this video on YouTube

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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