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Turkish PM says 238 killed in coal mine disaster

SOMA, Turkey: The death toll in a coal mine disaster in western Turkey rose to 238, with 80 more injured, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

"According to the first indications, 238 of our workers lost their lives and 80 were injured," Erdogan told a news conference after visiting the mine in Soma, about 480 kilometres (298 miles) southwest of Istanbul.

Earlier, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 workers had been in the mine in Soma, around 120 km (75 miles) northeast of the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, when the blast occurred.

Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine to keep those trapped by the blaze alive, as thousands of family members and fellow workers, clamoring for information, gathered outside the town's hospital. A line of police held back the crowd as ambulances arrived.      

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan cancelled a day trip to Albania, scheduled for Wednesday, and would instead go to the site of the disaster, sources in his office said. – Reuters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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