Istanbul (dpa) – Emergency teams were Wednesday working to rescue 18 miners trapped underground in southern Turkey, but hopes were fading of getting them out alive.
Areas of the coal mine in Karaman province, about 400 kilometres south of Ankara, are flooded with water. The emergency teams were trying to pump the water out, but the process was slow.
The cause of the accident and the flooding was not yet known.
There has been no communication with the miners, who were believed to have tried to find shelter in a gallery of the collapsed mine.
“The water level currently is unfortunately higher than where the miners are,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in remarks broadcast on local TV.
Teams of divers were unable to advance to the position where officials believe the miners had taken refuge, because of the darkness and high water levels.
Distraught friends and relatives of the miners were waiting for any news of their loved ones in tents surrounding the mine. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has flown to the town to meet the miners’ families and rescue workers.
“It looks like the chance of survival is very low,” Ergun Atalay, the head of the Turk-Is labour union, was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.