(Reuters) - An explosion in a coal mine in Turkey's northern Bartin province on Friday killed 40 people, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday, adding that search and rescue operations were continuing for one missing miner.
He said 58 of the 110 people working in the mine when the blast occurred were rescued by the teams or got out by themselves, adding there was uncertainty about one miner.
"There is still a fire going on there, miners and teams have made great sacrifices not to leave their brothers there," Soylu said at the mine.
Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said that the initial indications were that the blast was caused by firedamp, a term referring to methane in coal mines.
There are no ongoing fires inside the mine and the ventilation inside was working properly, Donmez said, adding that there were partial collapses inside the mine.
The explosion occurred 300 metres (985 feet) below the entrance of the mine at around 1515 GMT, the Bartin governor's office said. The mine belongs to the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Enterprises.
Footage on Turkish television showed what it said were the families of the miners watching from the sidelines as health and rescue workers huddled around the entrance to the mine. Some miners were taken out and carried off to ambulances on stretchers, footage showed.
Bartin prosecutor's office said it had launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion.
President Tayyip Erdogan said he would go to Bartin on Saturday. "Our hope is that the loss of life will not increase further, that our miners will be saved safely and all our efforts are in this direction," he said on Twitter.
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