MANISA (QHA) -

The coal mine fire in the west of Turkey has killed 201 miners and trapped hundreds underground, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has said early on Wednesday, in what might become the biggest mining disaster in Turkish history.

An explosion and fire in the district of Soma in Manisa province followed an electrical fault on Tuesday afternoon, Anadolu Agency reports.

An exact cause of the blast has yet to be officially announced. Yildiz said the deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning, as he ruled out any possibility of firedamp or methane gas explosion.

Prime Minister Erdogan, who has canceled a trip to Albania to pay a visit to the province, has offered condolences to the families of those who died.

The greatest mining tragedy in Turkey occurred two decades ago in 1992, when a firedamp explosion killed 263 people. The second and third highest death tolls were in 1983 and 1990, respectively, leaving 103 and 68 dead in methane gas explosions.

QHA