Turkey mine explosion: Families wait in anguish

SOMA, Turkey - Rescue workers continued to bring out the dead Wednesday and searched for as many as 150 miners still missing after a devastating explosion and fire here Tuesday.

The families gathered around the entrance of the mine cheered in jubilation Wednesday morning, as men appeared after being trapped underground for nearly a day.

But by the afternoon, a grim procession of stretchers carried one dead body after another. Every time a survivor, or a body, emerged from the mine, members of the crowd near the entrance pushed forward to see if it was their family member or their friend. The disaster has claimed over 200 lives so far.

A man named Nusrallah told CBS News his 26-year-old brother Ozgur was one of the trapped miners.

He'd only worked there for four months before the explosion.

When asked if he thought his brother was still alive, he said no.

"I'm not expecting that. I'm sure we've lost him."

A line of ambulances stood by to rush survivors to the hospital. But instead they carried the dead to a makeshift morgue.

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Turkish police arrest a protester in Ankara on May 14, 2014 during a demonstration gathering hundreds after more than 200 people were killed in an explosion at a mine. Police fired tear gas and water cannon when around 800 protesters shouting slogans against the government faced police intervention attempted to march from the Middle East Technical University to the energy ministry. AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN (Photo credit should read ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)
ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the mine and promised an investigation into what caused this disaster.

But as the hours wore on, grief boiled over into anger. One man, who said his nephew was trapped inside, demanded answers about what went wrong.

Thousands of people protested in Istanbul Wednesday night. Many in Turkey are placing blame for the disaster on the government, which they say is too close to the country's mining companies and has allowed extremely lax safety standards.

Murat Gokmenoglu works in a neighboring coal mine and told us he'd just spent 14 hours helping to carry bodies to the surface.

"Every time we go to work we're gambling with our lives," he told us. "And every morning we say good bye to our families as if it's for the last time."

  • Holly Williams

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