Turkey mine disaster death toll rises to 299: minister
A body of miner is carried to an ambulance in Soma - REUTERS

ISTANBUL: The death toll in Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster rose to 299 on Saturday as a new fire hampered rescue attempts, the energy minister said.

Taner Yildiz told reporters that three miners were still thought to be underground based on families’ testimonies while 485 miners have either escaped or been rescued since Tuesday’s mine blast and fire in the western town of Soma.

A new fire broke out Saturday in another section of the mine, about 250 meters (820 feet) away from where the miners are trapped, creating further difficulties for rescue teams, Yildiz added.

The mine disaster has sparked a wave of fury against the government ahead of August presidential elections which the embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to win.

Turkish police on Friday fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of protesters in Soma and broke up peaceful protests across the country.

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