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Workers at a gold mine in Turkey are believed trapped underground

ISTANBUL — Nine workers are believed to be trapped underground after a landslide hit a gold mine in eastern Turkey on Tuesday, officials said.

The landslide at the Copler mine happened at 2:30 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) near the town of Ilic in Turkey’s mountainous Erzincan province.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said nine workers had not been heard from since the landslide struck and that 400 search and rescue personnel were at the site. Emergency agency AFAD said staff from surrounding provinces had been brought in.

“There are people buried underground, the number is not clear. Our search and rescue efforts have started,” Gov. Hamza Aydogdu said.

Erzincan Mayor Bekir Aksun, meanwhile, told broadcaster Haberturk that between 10 and 12 workers were missing.

Anagold Mining has operated the Copler mine since 2009. Yerlikaya said 667 staff were employed at the site.

In a statement, the company said its “most important priority in this difficult process … is the health and safety of our employees and contractors.”

“This is a painful situation. Immediately after the incident, we immediately contacted our employees in the region, put our emergency plan into action and informed the relevant public institutions and organizations,” the statement said.

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation into the disaster had been launched, adding: “I wish our citizens from Erzincan recover soon and hope that our miner brothers who are trapped under the rubble will be rescued safely.”

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