Over 200 coal miners in Turkey have been killed in an explosion, possibly triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 12:30 GMT on Tuesday. Hundreds more remain trapped underground, with rescue efforts facing “a race against time,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

Rescue operations have been underway and continued overnight, retrieving over 80 injured and 4 in need of serious medical attention. “We fear the number could rise even further because those who came to help out may be among the injured and affected by the smoke. As the time passes, we are very quickly heading to an unfavourable outcome,” Yildiz said.

The mining company Soma Komur issued a statement saying the mine had maximum safety measures. “Unfortunately, some of our workers have lost their lives in this tragic accident. The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action,” the statement said.

Yildiz has not ruled out negligence, however, and has warned that Turkey’s government “will not turn a blind eye to it. We will do whatever necessary including all administrative and legal steps.”

In the country, explosions and cave-ins are not uncommon and private mines may ignore safety regulations. The worst mining accident in Turkey was a gas explosion that occurred in 1992, which killed 263 workers in a mine in Zonguldak.

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