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Minister: Hope fading for 18 Turkish miners trapped underground amid surging waters

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ANKARA, Turkey — A senior government official says hopes are fading for 18 miners trapped in a flooded coal mine in southern Turkey.

Rescue workers are using huge pipes to pump water from 350 meters (380 yards) underground, but Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Thursday that the operation is being hampered by mud and damage inside the mine.

PHOTO: Miners and security officials are seen around as rescue workers use pipes to pump water out of the mine after underground waters flooded a section of a coal mine in the town of Ermenek, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Ankara, close to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. At least 18 workers were trapped inside, officials and reports said _ an event likely to raise even more concerns about the nation’s poor workplace safety standards. In May, a fire inside a coal mine in the western town of Soma killed 301 miners in Turkey’s worst mining disaster. The fire exposed poor safety standards and superficial government inspections in many of the country's mines.(AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT
Miners and security officials are seen around as rescue workers use pipes to pump water out of the mine after underground waters flooded a section of a coal mine in the town of Ermenek, some 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Ankara, close to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. At least 18 workers were trapped inside, officials and reports said _ an event likely to raise even more concerns about the nation’s poor workplace safety standards. In May, a fire inside a coal mine in the western town of Soma killed 301 miners in Turkey’s worst mining disaster. The fire exposed poor safety standards and superficial government inspections in many of the country's mines.(AP Photo/IHA) TURKEY OUT

There has been no contact with the 18 men since they were trapped Tuesday amid surging waters in the Has Sekerler mine near the town of Ermenek in Karaman province. Officials say their chances of survival are slim unless they managed to reach a safety gallery.

Yildiz says, "hope regarding our 18 brothers is decreasing."

The tragedy has renewed questions about Turkey's poor workplace safety.

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