ANKARA, Turkey – A gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in western Turkey Thursday, killing at least 18 miners who were trapped in a collapsed shaft, officials said.
Rescue workers managed to enter the mine, about 20 miles from the town of Gediz (search) in western Kutahya province, and retrieve the bodies, Cemil Akcapinar, an aide to the mayor of Gediz, told The Associated Press by telephone.
"They have entered the mine and are removing the bodies one by one," Akcapinar said.
The miners were trapped about 1,000 feet underground and were killed from methane gas poisoning, Akcapinar said.
Two injured miners were brought out of the mine earlier.
Accidents are not uncommon in Turkish mines due to safety violations, outdated equipment and high concentrations of methane gas.
In 1992, in Turkey's worst mining disaster, a gas explosion killed 270 workers near the Black Sea port city of Zonguldak (search).