As a crowd milled around with downcast eyes outside a coal mine in western Turkey on Wednesday, a miner dashed their hopes that
his co-workers still stuck inside would make it out alive.
There are 200 of them trapped in a shaft about two-thirds of a mile -- or 1 kilometer -- underground, disaster officials have said. But many miners are missing, so the number could be much higher.
The miner and some friends had crawled out of the burning mine in the town of Soma on their own, he told a reporter from CNN's sister network CNN Turk.
He choked up as he said that he couldn't imagine anyone else having the same luck.
The fire, which started after a transformer blew up, was still burning and preventing help from getting to the trapped miners, Turkey's energy minister said. The death toll is at 232, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Smoke rose from openings in the ground around the mine a day after the fire broke out.
"Rescue operations will continue once smoke and CO2 levels are minimized," Taner Yildiz told reporters.
'Our hopes are diminishing'
Early Wednesday, emergency crews had hauled up dozens of survivors as a crowd looked on in the post-midnight darkness. All but eight were injured.
CNN Turk aired the rescue of one miner to a cheering crowd.
But progress has stopped at the mine, as the number of those rescued inched up slightly to a total of 93.
"Our hopes are diminishing," Yildiz said.
He had no official update of the death toll, but he expected it to rise.
Officials have carried out 72 autopsies. The dead and injured seemed to be suffering from burns and suffocation, said Muzaffer Yurttas, the region's member of parliament.