Turkey mine disaster death toll disputed by furious locals – by Constanze Letsch (The Guardian – May 16, 2014)


Officials say death toll from explosion at mine in western Turkey likely to be around 300, but some say more are trapped

Soma – The final death toll from Turkey’s mine disaster will likely be around 300, government officials have said, though furious locals say the authorities are covering up far greater loss of life.

According to the latest official numbers, the number killed in Monday’s explosion and fire at the mine in western Turkey stands at 284. The energy minister, Taner Yildiz, said on Friday that 18 miners were still missing.

But one miner who works at the pit in Soma who wished to remain anonymous sdisputed the energy minister’s claim: “This is disgraceful, an incredible lie. They are trying to cover up the exact numbers of the accident. I have been down there. There are more than 18 bodies still trapped in the mine.”

Meanwhile, opposition parties, unions and human rights groups have called for an investigation into the cause of the accident and for those responsible to be held accountable.

“It is sad that Turkey is still number one in Europe when it comes to work accidents,” said Tamer Kücükgencay, the chairman of the regional miners’ union. “This mine was constantly inspected and certified as safe. The investigations into who is responsible for this accident has to start with those inspectors.”

Yildiz said that if negligence was found to be the cause of the disaster, then prosecutions would follow.

In a first press conference since the accident four days ago, Akin Çelik, the operating manager of the Soma Coal Mining Company, denied responsibility. He said: “There was no negligence on our side. I have worked in mines for 20 years, and I did not witness such an incident.”

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/16/turkey-mine-disaster-death-toll-disputed


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