Saturday, 17 May 2014

Turkey mine explosion: Final bodies recovered from underground as death tolls reaches 301

Rescue workers removed the last remaining bodies from a stricken mine here on Saturday afternoon as the death toll in Turkey’s worst mining accident rose to 301 people, according to the prime minister’s office.

The final recovery efforts were hampered by a fire that broke out underground Saturday morning, as well as the leakage of methane gas, according to the energy minister, Taner Yildiz. Some of the 17 bodies removed overnight were so badly burned that DNA testing will be required to identify them, he said.

Smoke could be seen rising near an entrance to the mine on Saturday. For the first time since the accident four days ago, there were no relatives of victims seen waiting. Some of the families moved to a nearby state hospital, to await the results of the DNA tests.

With so many dead, the tragedy rippled for miles around the coal mine, affecting towns and tiny villages in a region where thousands of men work in the industry.

On Saturday, volunteers flocked to a village especially hard hit by the accident. At least 11 men from Elmadere, a town of about 250 people, were killed in the accident.

As the volunteers — who came in buses from Istanbul and other towns — passed out toys and candy to the village’s children, residents fretted about a future without their miners.

“We’ve tried cattle breeding, it failed. We tried tobacco, it failed,” said Ali Suay, 57, whose 34-year-old son died in the mine. “Nothing provided us enough income.”

At the entrance to the mine, Cevat Altuntas, who had worked as a miner for 30 years, said the authorities focused on safety only after accidents.

“This is how mining goes in Turkey,” he said. “Unless our fingers are bleeding, we don’t take precautions.”

Ozgur Ozel, an opposition politician from the Soma region, petitioned parliament in October to hold an inquiry into mine safety but the proposal was voted down.

He says there is a mine accident every three or four months in the area and 11 workers had died in the last three years alone.

The Turkish Government has not adopted the International Labour Organisation's convention on mine safety, which is widely regarded as the industry standard.

Saturday 17 May 2014


Post a Comment