The death toll from Tuesday's coal mine disaster in western Turkey has reached 282, energy minister Taner Yildiz said Thursday morning, Anadolu Agency reports.
"217 dead miners' bodies have been given to their families," Yildiz told the press at the scene of the rescue efforts near the mine entrance.
The exact cause of the blast has yet to be officially announced but it is suspected that an explosion and fire followed an electrical fault. Yildiz ruled out the possibility of firedamp or a methane gas explosion, saying the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Turkey has declared three days of national mourning, during which flags will fly at half-mast and parliament will be closed for the victims of what is being described as one of the worst mining accidents in the country's history.