A landslide in eastern Turkey hit a gold mine, trapping at least nine workers underground.
The landslide occurred around 2:30 p.m. local time at the Copler mine in Turkey’s mountainous Erzincan province. Video from the scene reportedly showed the earth engulfing everything in its path, including the valley where the workers were.
Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya confirmed that the workers were missing and said that search and rescue efforts are underway, with 400 search and rescue personnel present.
Anagold Mining, the private company that runs the mine, has been managing it since 2009, with a staff count of 667, as stated by Yerlikaya.
“We will mobilize all our means in order to urgently shed light on this incident,” Anagold said in a statement. “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 landslide also impacts the environment surrounding the mine. Geologist Suleyman Pampal told Haberturk news agency that the soil involved in the landslide underwent gold processing, which means it could contain cyanide that is used during the extraction process.
The Euphrates River is also adjacent to the mine and if contamination due to the landslide is not contained, it could harm surrounding life.
This type of accident is not unique in Turkey, which is susceptible to landslides and has had a series of mining accidents in the last few decades. Last year a methane blast in northwestern Turkey killed 42 people.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.