A mammoth explosion Friday at a fireworks factory in northwest Turkey killed four people and injured 97 others, local media report.
Located outside the town of Hendek in Sakarya province, the Big Coskunlar Fireworks factory has a work force of 186 people. It is feared that dozens may still be trapped in the rubble.
The Hendek News web site reports that the explosion happen shortly after 11 a.m. and originated in warehouse section of the factory complex. The blast was felt and heard as far away as 50 kilometers.
Fireworks continued to ignite in the wake of the blast, making it difficult for rescuers to reach the scene. The government reports that 85 ambulances have been dispatched to the emergency.
Ninety-two of the injured have been discharged from the five hospitals utilized in the emergency. Of the 22 still under treatment only one person is classified as critical.
Turkish Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca warned the public that toxic gases near the explosion site required caution.
“We recommend that you do not go out until at least 12 hours, keep the doors and windows closed, not not operate the air conditioners,” Koca said.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.