ISTANBUL, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Turkey stops rescue work on Saturday as death toll reaches 301 in the coal mine disaster in Soma in western Turkey, Turksih Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told the press that rescue teams managed to reach the dead bodies of last two workers.
He added that they are planning to end the rescue works and launch investigation into the accident which caused the tragedy in the mine.
Earlier in the morning, he said that a fresh fire began inside the mine which hampered efforts to locate the bodies of three more miners who could still be trapped.
Yildiz said that 485 miners have either escaped or been rescued after the mine blast and fire on May 13.
However, many locals accuse the government of understating the real death toll, saying there are many more bodies that still remain buried in the mine.
The minister said "The mine will be thoroughly searched again and the bodies will be compared with the applications of the families after the identification process is finished."
Tuesday's mine accident in Soma is the deadliest in Turkey's history. The minister said that any negligence on the part of officials or the company managing the mine will be punished.
Turkey has announced a three-day mourning period for the victims.
Turkey currently has 740 coal mines and more than 48,000 miners. Mine accidents in the country have killed over 3,000 people and injured more than 100,000 since 1941.
Photo>> Protestors in Turkey demand gov't to resign for mine blast
Xi, Gul hold phone talks over coal mine explosion in Turkey, bilateral ties
BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul by phone Friday on a deadly coal mine explosion in western Turkey and relations between the two countries.
Gul expressed heartfelt thanks for a message of condolences sent by Xi on Wednesday over the disaster, which took place in a privately owned mine in the western Turkish province of Manisa during a shift changeover on Tuesday. The death toll reached 284 on Friday, making it the country's worst industrial disaster.Full story
Obama offers condolences over deadly coal mine blast in Turkey
WASHINGTON, May 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday called his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to offer his " heartfelt" condolences over a deadly coal mine explosion in western Turkey, saying his administration was ready to help.
"The president offered that the United States stands ready to provide any assistance that could help those affected," the White House said in a readout of the phone conversation.Full story
UN chief saddened by Turkey's mine tragedy
UNITED NATIONS, May 15 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that he was deeply saddened by a coal mine accident in Turkey, in which nearly 300 people were killed and many others missing or seriously injured.
A statement issued by his spokesperson said the UN chief stood together with the people of Turkey as they mourned fathers, sons and brothers, and attend to the wounded.Full story