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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora