World
Death toll in Turkey coal mine explosion soars to 201; Many still trapped
Publish Date: May 14, 2014
Death toll in Turkey coal mine explosion soars to 201; Many still trapped
People gather at a mine in the Soma district in the western Turkish province of Manisa on May 13, 2014, after it collapsed due to an explosion following an electric fault. Photo/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

SOMA, Turkey—More than 200 people have been killed and hopes are fading for hundreds more still trapped underground after an explosion at a coal mine in western Turkey, one of the worst industrial disasters ever to hit the country.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 363 workers had been pulled out alive in the initial stages of the rescue on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time), while Turkish media said early Wednesday another six had been rescued.

But Yildiz said fires and the risk of toxic carbon monoxide were hampering rescue efforts.

“I must say that our hopes about rescue efforts inside (the mine) are fading,” he told reporters.

 

In all, 201 miners have been confirmed dead after a blast Tuesday at the mine in Manisa province trapped 787 mineworkers. Of those rescued alive, 80 were injured, four of them seriously, Yildiz said.

Earlier a security source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that there were pockets in the mine, one of which was open so rescuers were able to reach the workers, but the second was blocked with workers trapped inside.

 

The explosion was believed to have been triggered by a faulty electrical transformer at around 1230 GMT Tuesday.

Hundreds of people gathered around the explosion site as rescuers brought out injured workers, who were coughing and struggling to breathe due to the dust.

 

Sena Isbiler, mother of one of the miners, stood on top of piles of wood, craning her neck to see who was being led out of the mine.

“I have been waiting for my son since early afternoon,” she told AFP.

“I haven’t heard anything about him yet.”

Arum Unzar, a colleague of the missing miners said he had lost a friend previously “but this is enormous.”

“All the victims are our friends,” he said as he wept.

“We are a family and today that family is devastated. We have had very little news and when it does come it’s very bad,” he added.

 

‘Tragic accident’

Fire officials were trying to pump clean air into the mine shaft for those who remained trapped some two kilometres (one mile) below the surface and four kilometres from the entrance.

Late Tuesday evening injured people were still emerging from the collapsed mine — some walking, others being carried by rescue workers while being given oxygen.

 

Nearby, security officers tried to keep ambulance routes clear to ensure help could reach the victims.

The mining company Soma Komur issued a statement saying the mine had taken maximum measures to ensure safety.

“Unfortunately, some of our workers have lost their lives in this tragic accident,” the statement said.

“The accident happened despite maximum safety measures and inspections, but we have been able to take prompt action,” it added.

 

Energy Minister Yildiz promised the government would “not turn a blind eye” to negligence. “We will do whatever necessary, including all administrative and legal steps,” he said.

 

‘Time isn’t in our favour’

Turkey’s ministry of labour and social security said the mine was last inspected on March 17 and was found to be compliant with safety regulations.

But Oktay Berrin, a miner, said workers were not protected underground.

“There is no security in this mine,” he told AFP.

“The unions are just puppets and our management only cares about money.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said he would arrive in Soma on Wednesday after cancelling a trip to Albania.

 

Speaking in Ankara, the leader expressed his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of those who died.

“Some of the workers have been rescued and I hope we will be able to rescue the others,” Erdogan said.

Yildiz told journalists in Soma that a team of 400 people were involved in the rescue effort and that the main cause of the deaths was carbon monoxide and dioxide poisoning.

 

“Time isn’t working in our favour. We need to get them out. We could be in a troubled situation,” he said earlier.

The miners are all thought to have gas masks, but it was not clear how long they would last.

Vedat Didari, a professor of mining, told AFP that the biggest risk was the lack of oxygen.

“If the ceiling fans are not working, the workers could die within an hour,” said Didari, from the Bulent Ecevit University in the city of Zonguldak.

 

Explosions and cave-ins are common in Turkey, particularly in private mines where safety regulations are often flouted.

Turkey’s worst mining accident happened in 1992 when 263 workers were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in Zonguldak.

 

Soma is one of the key centers for lignite coal mining in Turkey, a district with a population of around 100,000 where the mines and a lignite-fired thermal power plant are the main economic activity.

(AFP)


The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Village votes to expel HIV-positive boy
The plight of a Chinese boy with the HIV virus, reportedly pushed to leave his home by 200 villagers who signed a petition...
Key points in Obama
Among the changes, Obama will authorize the State Department to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Cuba....
Global life expectancy rises - study
People around the world lived on average to a ripe old age of 71.5 in 2013, up from 65.3 in 1990, a study says....
US announces
The United States on Wednesday announced a "historic" thaw in relations with Cuba, saying it would work to re-establish diplomatic ties with Havana and ease long-standing trade and travel sanctions....
Jeb latest Bush to launch US presidential bid
JEB Bush, son to one former US president and brother to another, threw his hat into the ring for the 2016 race...
Australia vows to unearth why
Australia''s government pledged Tuesday to determine why an Iranian-born Islamist with a history of extremism and violence was able to play out a "sick fantasy" by seizing hostages in a day-long siege....
What is causing the rise in Early child marriages?
Decaying social structures
Poor Education
None of the above
follow us
subscribe to our news letter