ANKARA, Turkey, May 14 (UPI) -- More than 232 people have perished in a coal mine explosion and fire in western Turkey on Tuesday, and more than 200 miners remain trapped.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz acknowledged that number may rise as emergency responders attempt to rescue more than 200 miners trapped two-thirds of a mile underground.
"We are worried that the death toll will rise ... I have to say that our hopes are dimming in terms of the rescue efforts."
Yildiz said, "Rescue operations will continue once smoke and CO2 levels are minimized."
The mine explosion occurred Tuesday in the town of Soma, in Manisa province, as workers were changing shifts. 787 miners were reportedly in the coal mine when the transformer exploded, causing a fire that burned for more than 18 hours.