News / Europe

Protests Erupt After Turkish Mine Disaster

  • The body of a miner is carried to an ambulance in Soma, western Turkey, May 14, 2014.
  • Relatives of miners trapped in a coal mine wait in front of the site in Soma, western Turkey, May 14, 2014.
  • Family members wait outside a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, May 14, 2014.
  • Family members wait outside a coal mine where more than 200 miners have been trapped after an explosion, in Soma, western Turkey, May 14, 2014.
  • A man kisses his son, rescued from the coal mine after an explosion, in Manisa, May 13, 2014.
  • Medics help a rescued miner after a deadly explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
  • Medics, ambulances and relatives are seen at the entrance of a coal mine hours after a deadly explosion and fire in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
  • Miners carry a rescued friend hours after a deadly explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
  • Family members gather near the mine after a deadly explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
  • An injured miner is carried into a hospital in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
  • Two rescued miners sit waiting after an explosion and fire at a coal mine, in Soma, western Turkey, May 13, 2014.
Deadly Coal Mine Fire in Western Turkey
Dorian Jones
The death toll in a coal mine disaster in western Turkey increased to 274, with 80 more injured, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday after visiting the mine in Soma, southwest of Istanbul.

Erdogan also told reporters Wednesday that 120 workers are believed to remain trapped in what could be Turkey's worst ever industrial disaster.

Postponing a trip to Albania, Erdogan instead travelled to Soma district of Manisa, site of the disaster and home to some 16,000 miners, where he met with authorities handling rescue operations and grieving family members.
 
Riot police run from fire bombs thrown by protesters as they blame ruling AK Party government for mining disaster in western Turkey, Ankara, May 14, 2014.Riot police run from fire bombs thrown by protesters as they blame ruling AK Party government for mining disaster in western Turkey, Ankara, May 14, 2014.
x
Riot police run from fire bombs thrown by protesters as they blame ruling AK Party government for mining disaster in western Turkey, Ankara, May 14, 2014.
Riot police run from fire bombs thrown by protesters as they blame ruling AK Party government for mining disaster in western Turkey, Ankara, May 14, 2014.
According to some reports, relatives and friends of the missing continue to await updates outside the stricken mine, but hope is fading for up to 200 miners still trapped inside.

At the mine, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz says although oxygen is being pumped into the mine, which is more than a kilometer deep, rescue efforts have been repeatedly suspended due to high levels of carbon monoxide.

Soma Komur Isletmeleri, that company that operates the mine, says nearly 450 miners were rescued and that most of the deaths are believed to have been caused by suffocation. One miner involved in the rescue efforts says there is little hope left of finding more survivors

"Rescuers cannot enter the mine anymore," he said. "I heard that at least three miners who went in to rescue others have died."

A cold storage warehouse, usually used for food and freezer trucks, served as makeshift morgues as hospital facilities overflowed. Medical staff intermittently emerged from the hospital to read the names of survivors being treated inside, with families and fellow workers clamoring for information.

Teams of psychiatrists were being pulled together to help counsel the families of victims. Paramilitary police guarded the entrance to the mine to keep distressed relatives at a safe distance from the rescue effort.
 
Soma, TurkeySoma, Turkey
x
Soma, Turkey
Soma, Turkey
Authorities say the collapse was caused by an electrical fault that ignited an explosion and fire, which is still believed to be burning in some parts of the mine.

Relatives have voiced anger over a lack of information as the government is under increasing pressure for recently refusing parliamentary opposition calls to investigate the owners of the mine over safety concerns.

Amid massive security operation, the prime minister visited Soma Wednesday, where protesters in kicked his car while calling for government resignations.

Addressing journalists, Erdogan cited 19th century mining disasters in the United Kingdom, claiming such tragedies were not confined to Turkey.
 
March 3013 - Tibet
A landslide buries 83 miners in Central Tibet.

August 2010 - Democratic Republic of Congo
At least 60 miners die when a gold mine shaft collapses in a region controled by an armed rebel group.

March 2011 - Pakistan
Dozens are killed when after a methane explosion at a coal mine near Quetta.

November 2010 - New Zealand
Twenty nine coal miners trapped for five days after an explosion die after a second blast caused by methane gas.

October 2010 - Chile
Trapped for more than two months, 33 miners are rescued after a cave-in at a gold and copper mine in northern Chile.

April 2010- - United States
An explosion at a coal mine in West Virginia kills 29 miners.
"About 204 people died in Britain after a mine collapse in 1838, 361 miners died there in 1866, and an explosion in 1894, 290 people died in Wales," he said, promising a thorough investigation of Tuesday's disaster.

Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, leader of Turkey's Republican People's Party, the group that issued calls last year to address occupational concerns for miners, was expected to visit Soma Wednesday.

Kani Beko, head of the leftwing trade union federation DISK, blames industry-wide privatization and subcontracting for the deadly accident.

"Occupational safety and health of workers is being neglected," he said, calling the accident a "massacre."

Protests

In Istanbul calls to protest working conditions were issued via social media, some encouraging demonstrators to congregate at the Soma Komur Isletmeleri headquarters, where the words "this building is built on the blood of the workers" was written on the wall.

Incidents of violence were reported at protests in Ankara, where police purported fired used tear gas canisters and water cannons to disperse students marching on the Energy Ministry.

At Istanbul's Taksim Square, two left-wing opposition newspaper vendors read out headlines to silent morning commuters: “Turkey is a graveyard for workers,” and “this wasn't an accident, this was negligence.”

The company said in a brief statement late on Tuesday that there had been “a grave accident” caused by an explosion in a substation but gave few other details.

Response

The United States and other countries expressed sympathy to friends and relatives of those killed in the explosion.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Turkey today in the wake of a coal mine explosion in Soma in which some 200 have been killed and hundreds more remain trapped," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, echoing a State Department announcement expressing condolences and "hope that ongoing rescue efforts are successful and those who were injured make a full recovery."

"The United States stands with Turkey during this period of national mourning," it said.

Poor record

Turkey's coal mines are notoriously dangerous, prompting some in parliament to demand an investigation into poor safety conditions.

The International Labor Organization ranked the EU candidate nation third worst in the world for worker deaths in 2012.

Turkey's rapid growth over the past decade has seen a construction boom and a scramble to meet soaring energy demands, with worker safety standards often failing to keep pace.

Its safety record for coal mining has been poor for decades, with its deadliest accident to date in 1992, when a gas blast killed 263 workers in the Black Sea province of Zonguldak.

The Labor Ministry said late on Tuesday its officials had carried out regular inspections at the Soma mine, most recently in March, and that no irregularities had been detected.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Calvin Sanders from: NJ, USA
May 20, 2014 7:53 AM
As a parent, I find it very hard to secure the safety of my children. I am a father of two lovely daughters. Both go to high school. I can't be with them every single time. Me and my wife go to work everyday. It's hard to be certain about their whereabouts and situation. Good thing I discovered this amazing application installed on my children's phones.

It has a panic button that my children will press in case of an emergency. As simple as that it will automatically be connected to a 24/7 Response center and if needed, your call can be escalated to the nearest 911 Station. Me, along with my wife and close friends as my children's safety network, will be notified also through text message or a conference call. I worry less. This can help you too.

by: Keira from: Cyprus
May 15, 2014 11:49 AM
This is the best time to protest. Obviously taking the subdued option hasn't worked with multiple deaths as a result.

They claim that the site was inspected in March. If this is correct the power distribution unit is considered a hostile operating equipment, thus should have been tested for reliability recently. Pure negligence on the companies part.

by: salome wambui from: kenya.kitui
May 14, 2014 4:21 PM
For Gods sake,do not protest.This is a natural disaster which can happen anywhere,your protesting will worsen the situation.Lets concetrate on rescuing the peopple and the rest will follow later on.
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 15, 2014 3:39 AM
agree to this point

by: SuzieQue from: NC USA
May 14, 2014 12:16 PM
I hope the media will report on the reason the transformer blew up and caught fire in the first place. That isn't supposed to happen.

by: Not Again from: Canada
May 14, 2014 10:26 AM
A very terrible tragedy has befallen the Turkish people; our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims. This type of serious and deadly incident is, unfortunately, very common in the coal industry on a global scale. Governments bear the brunt of the responsibility because they very ineptly enforce and develop safety standards, if at all. A simple issue of not ensuring electrical equipment, or any other equipment that could cause a fire/spark/open flame, is not adequately dealt with, is just the tip of the unsafe iceberg in coal mines, causing fatalities.

As usual big statements of improvement of conditions will be made by the govt/industry/etc, but no real changes will occur after the cloud of time passes over the incident, and everyone slacks off until the next occurrence. A very sad state of affairs.

by: Yuanyuan from: China
May 14, 2014 10:18 AM
God blesses Turkey.l wish more survivals to be alive.The goverment should enforce the related laws to ensure labor safety.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs