US offers aid to Turkey after mine disaster

The White House is offering assistance to the Turkish government after a coal mine collapse in the country's western region killed at least 200 workers and left hundreds more trapped underground.

"Turkey is a close and long-standing friend and ally of the United States. We are ready to assist the Turkish government if necessary," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. "And we will continue to stand together in this time of tragedy."

"On behalf of the American people, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and our best wishes for the safe exit of the remaining miners," he added.

Carney said he did not know if that assistance would include technical assistance to help improve mine safety.

"I am not aware of conversations of that nature at this point, given how recent the tragedy was and the fact that there are still miners that are trapped," Carney said.

According to multiple media reports, an explosion tore through the coal mine as workers were readying for a shift change. The resulting fire remains burning inside the mine, and many of the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.