Emergency workers are rushing to try and save workers trapped in a Turkish coal mine. The disaster prompted Turkey's president to cancel a planned lavish evening reception at his new palace.
Rescuers were attempting to pump out water in the mine in the southern Karaman province on Wednesday, to free the 18 workers believed to be trapped in a flooded shaft about 300 meters (1,000 feet) beneath the earth.
"Time is against us," acknowledged Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, while confirming late Tuesday that there had been no contact with any of the miners who were trapped. Anxious family members were waiting for news nearby.
The mining accident and flooding occurred on Tuesday while at least 34 miners were underground. About 16 managed to escape without injury.
It's not yet known exactly what caused the accumulation of water, but Turkey's mining industry has a notoriously poor workplace safety record. Hundreds of workers were killed in an accident in Soma six months ago.
Celebrations turn to concern
The incident has also cast a shadow on Turkey's annual Republic Day holiday, which is celebrated Wednesday.
It prompted the country's recently elected president, former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to cancel a reception planned on Wednesday evening at his immense new presidential palace.
Instead, he was to travel to the scene of the disaster, near the town of Ermenek. Before he left, he told local television there was still a chance the miners could be found alive.
"Our expectations and our hopes have not been lost. Our friends and miners are continuing to work and make efforts there," he said on state television.
Erdogan copped criticism earlier this year for his handling of the Soma tragedy.
se/ cb (AP, AFP, dpa)