Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people were inside the mine at the time of the explosion, which was triggered by an electrical problem. The subsequent fire blocked the mine's exits, and the power outage left the mine's elevators useless. Most of the miners, who were trapped more than a mile underground, died from smoke inhalation, according to reports.
Yildiz added that the mining disaster is likely the worst in Turkish history.
One 30-year-old man, who declined to give his name, said he rushed to the scene to try to help find his brother who was still missing early Wednesday. He said he was able to make it about 150 meters (500 feet) inside before gasses forced him to retreat.
"There is no hope," he said with tears in his eyes.
Turkey's Labor and Social Security Ministry told the Associated Press the mine has been inspected five times since 2012, most recently in March 2014; no safety issues were noted in any of the inspections.
[Image via AP]