Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prays at the funeral of a man who was killed in the coal mine blast.—AFP

Rescuers on Saturday found the body of the last missing miner at a coal mine in northern Turkiye, bringing the death toll to 41 from a methane blast the previous day.

Shortly after his arrival at the site near the small coal mining town of Amasra on Turkiye’s Black Sea coast on Saturday afternoon, Presid­ent Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the last missing person had been found dead.

“Our priority was to find the miners in the gallery. We finally reached the last one. He also died, bringing the number of deaths to 41,” he said, ending rescue operations more than 20 hours after the deadly explosion.

Interior Minister Suley­man Soylu earlier said 58 miners had survived the blast, “either by themselves or thanks to rescuers”. He said 28 people had been inju­red as a result of the blast.

Turkiye suffered its deadliest coal mining disaster eight years ago when 301 workers died in a blast in the western town of Soma.

Television images showed anxious crowds — some with tears in their eyes — congregating around a damaged white building near the entrance to the pit in search of news of their friends and loved ones.

Erdogan earlier vowed on Twitter that the incident wo­u­­ld be thoroughly investigated.

Most initial information about those trapped inside was coming from workers who had managed to climb out relatively unharmed though Amasra mayor Recai Cakir said many of those who survived had suffered “serious injuries”.

The mining workers’ union attributed the blast to a build-up of methane gas. However, officials said it was premature to draw definitive conclusions about the cause of the accident.

Rescuers sent in reinforcements from surrounding villages to help in the search and rescue.

Television footage showed paramedics giving oxygen to the miners who had climbed out and then rushing them to the nearest hospitals.

The local governor said a team of more than 70 rescuers had managed to reach a point in the pit some 250 metres below.

Meanwhile, expressing grief at the tragedy in a post on his Twitter handle, Prime Min­ister Shehbaz Sharif said: “I express our profound sadness at the loss of precious lives in an explosion at a coal mine in Trkiye’s Bartin province. Our thoughts & prayers are with the bere­aved families and the Tur­kish people. May those still trapped are rescued at the earliest.”


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