Turkey mine rescue ends, death toll at 301

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters there were no more miners left underground

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Turkey on Saturday announced the final number of the dead from this week’s coal blast as 301, after recovering the bodies of the last two miners trapped underground.

“The rescue operation was carried out to completion. There are no miners left underground,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters in the western town of Soma, site of the country’s worst ever industrial disaster, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

Another 485 miners either escaped or have been rescued since the explosion struck on Tuesday.

Government and company officials have denied that negligence caused the disaster in the mine in Soma but opposition lawmakers have raised questions about possible lax oversight.

One miner who survived said safety inspectors never visited the lower reaches of the mine in Soma.

Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse rock-throwing protesters Friday in Soma who were demanding that government resign.

(With the Associated Press and AFP)