Rescue workers worked throughout the night to free hundreds of miners who remain trapped after an explosion killed at least 205 men, one of whom was only 15 years old, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports. A fire then broke out following the explosion at a power distribution unit, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.
This morning six workers were pulled out of the Soma mine in Manisa province and rushed to hospital. The Turkish Prime Minister has declared three days of mourning over the incident.
Miners’ families and fellow miners wait outside the mine for news while hopes of rescue for those who remain trapped underground diminish.
The tragedy has sparked nationwide criticism, drawing attention to the working conditions of miners, who mostly earn minimum-wage and have poor social security.
Union officials have slammed the government and the companies operating the mines for sacrificing security for higher profits and a reduction of costs, particularly by recruiting subcontractors.
An investigation has been launched into the mining disaster, chief public prosecutor, Durdu Kavak, has told ‘Hürriyet’, adding that a number of the superiors whose arrest is sought as part of the investigation “are dead along with the workers.”
“We will first determine what the problems are and then find those responsible. This could go from the shift supervisor to the company CEO and the company owner. Arrests will be made following the reports of inspectors,” Kavak said, adding that arrests were unlikely to be made for now.
Update: The number of workers killed in the explosion has risen to 232. Meanwhile the fate of more than 100 miners remains unknown.
Prime Minister Erdogan postponed a foreign trip and gave the updated death toll figure during a visit to the coal mine in Soma, about 250 kilometres south of Istanbul. Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Two days of national mourning has been declared in North Cyprus following the coal mine disaster. During the two days of national mourning, flags will be lowered to half-mast.