At least 35 people were killed on Wednesday in a coal mine explosion that struck northern Iran.
Fox News reported that the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers are trying to reach those trapped inside the Golestan province mine for the second day. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the incident “heartbreaking” and “disastrous,” saying he is in mourning for the victims.
“It is required that all possible measures are taken to rescue the stranded people,” he said.
The blast reportedly occurred at 12:45 p.m. local time (0945 GMT) Wednesday, and officials blamed the explosion on an accumulation of methane gas. This has made rescue efforts extremely difficult, as at least 25 people have been hospitalized over inhaling the gas during rescue attempts.
Reports have varied as to how many people are trapped inside the mine, with numbers ranging from dozens to up to 80. Over 500 workers are employed at the mine, which lies 14 kilometers (9 miles) from Azadshahr.
We will update you further as this story develops.