News / Europe

Turkey Ends Search with 301 Miners Dead

Relatives gather at the grave of a loved one killed in the mine explosion in Soma, Turkey, May 17, 2014.
Relatives gather at the grave of a loved one killed in the mine explosion in Soma, Turkey, May 17, 2014.
VOA News
Rescuers in Turkey have begun wrapping up search operations at the site of the country's worst-ever coal mine disaster.

On Saturday, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said rescue workers found the bodies of two more miners, raising the death toll to 301. He said they are believed to be the last remaining victims at the Soma Holding Co. mine in western Turkey.

Yildiz said 485 miners either had escaped or were rescued.
Deadly Mining Accidents in Turkey
  • March 7, 1983: 103 killed in Armutçuk, Zonguldak
  • April 10, 1983: 10 killed in Kozlu, Zonguldak
  • January 31, 1987: 8 killed in Kozlu, Zonguldak
  • January 31, 1990: 5 killed in Amasrada
  • February 7, 1990: 68 killed in Amasya
  • March 3, 1992: 263 killed in Kozlu, Zonguldak
  • March 26, 1995: 37 killed in Antalya
  • November 22, 2003: 10 killed in Karaman
  • September 8, 2004: 19 killed in Kastamonu
  • June 2, 2006: 17 killed in Balikesir
  • December 10, 2009: 19 killed in Bursa
  • May 17, 2010: 30 killed in Zonguldak
  • January 8, 2013: 8 killed in Kozlu, Zonguldak
  • May 13, 2014: More than 280 killed in Soma
"There are no mine workers in the mine at the moment," the energy minister told reporters at a news conference. "There are no more missing people reported by families."

Seven families were awaiting bodies undergoing DNA testing, he added.

Earlier Saturday, a new fire erupted at the mine, hampering recovery efforts. Yildiz said rescue teams would conduct a final search through the mine.

Turkish officials still are investigating the cause of Tuesday's electrical explosion and fire at the mine. They said most of the workers died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The deadly accident has sparked a string of protests. Demonstrators and IndustriALL Global Union, an international organization representing 50 million workers, say Turkey has poor mining safety standards.

Police in Istanbul used tear gas and water cannons late Friday to disperse people refusing to leave after a peaceful demonstration honoring the miners. What began as a solemn candlelight ceremony spiraled into chaos when several people refusing to leave after the event ended clashed with police.
  • A police water cannon is used against anti-government protesters in Soma, Turkey, May 16, 2014.
  • Hundreds of protesters took part in a march against the government. Some protesters chanted slogans near a monument for the town's miners, Soma, May 16, 2014.

  • A police water cannon is used against anti-government protesters in Soma, May 16, 2014.
  • Muslims pray in Soma, May 16, 2014.
  • People mourn at the grave of a miner after a burial service, in Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • Miners and members of rescue services wait outside a coal mine in Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • People prepare graves for the coal mine disaster victims in Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • Members of the rescue team sit outside the coal mine in Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • Relatives of the miners wait near the coal mine where disaster struck, Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • A young man waits outside the coal mine in Soma, May 15, 2014.
  • A protester is kicked by Yusuf Yerkel, advisor to Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, as Special Forces police officers detain him during a protest against Mr. Erdogan's visit to Soma, May 14, 2014.

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Comment Sorting
by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
May 17, 2014 8:55 AM
This disaster happened in Turkey, a sovereign country. However, it expresses a problem of common interest and concern to many nations involved in mining. I live in an area of Canada which has a history of significant mining and some active projects and operations. If safety can be improved in the operation of a mine, it is a moral and legal obligation to achieve high safety standards. Safety is as important as efficiency.

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