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Turkey's worst-ever mine disaster and has sparked angry protests against the government.

The operator of the Turkish mine that collapsed, killing at least 284 people, has denied any negligence. In a press conference, representatives from Soma Holding defended their response to the disaster and said their priority had been to save lives.

They added that an unexplained build-up of heat in the mine appeared to have caused the collapse.

It was Turkey's worst-ever mine disaster and has sparked angry protests against the government.

There are thought to be up to 18 workers still trapped inside the mine, according to Turkish ministers and Soma Holding. It is not clear if the men are still alive.

Another 363 escaped, while 122 are injured.

Rescuers are attempting to locate up to 18 workers still thought to be in the Soma mine

At least 284 people have been confirmed dead following the mine collapse

The disaster has sparked strikes and angry protests against the government, leading to clashes

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that a fire was still burning inside the mine, but it was "declining".

Anyone negligent about safety at the mine would be punished, he said, adding: "We won't take any notice of their tears".

'We want answers'

Speaking to journalists, plant manager Akin Celik said: "We still do not know how the accident happened. There is no negligence of ours in this incident."

He added: "We want to find answers as well. We have never faced such conditions, such circumstances. We haven't slept for three days because we're first trying to save lives."

Soma Holding executives said it was not clear what caused the explosion and collapse.

However, General Director Ramazan Dogru said reports that the fire began at a transformer were wrong.

"Overheating led to a collapse" at another part of the mine, he said, adding that this caused a fire which rapidly expanded. He said it was not clear why the overheating had occurred.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been criticised for being insensitive in his reaction to the disaster, by appearing to suggest that it was a fact of life.

His aide Yusuf Yerkel made headlines on Thursday when photos emerged of him appearing to kick a protester in Soma.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to push a man during his visit to Soma, as Orla Guerin reports for bbc

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