Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Turkish miners down tools over disaster

20 May 2014, 15:28

Soma - The main labour union in a Turkish town hit by the nation's worst mining disaster called on thousands of workers to down tools on Tuesday at mines run by the same operator until the sites have been properly inspected.

Three hundred and one miners died last week after a fire in a mine in Soma, a small town 480km southwest of Istanbul, fuelling anger in a nation which has long had one of the world's worst workplace safety records.

Turkish authorities are holding eight suspects, including the head of the firm operating the mine, on provisional charges of "causing multiple deaths by negligence".

Soma Mining Chief Executive Can Gurkan was remanded in custody late on Monday, joining the mine's general manager and six others who are being held pending a formal indictment.

"We want the mining affairs directorate inspectors to carry out inspections and we will walk out until this has been done," Tamer Kucukgencay, regional head of the Maden-Is labour union, told reporters.

He said the action affected 3 200 mine workers in the town, where Soma Mining has three sites including the one hit by the fire. Monday was a public holiday in Turkey and miners have not yet returned to work.

Economic growth

The disaster has sparked protests across Turkey, directed at mine operators accused of ignoring safety for profit, and at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, seen as too close to industry bosses and insensitive in its response.

While Erdogan has presided over a decade of rapid economic growth in Turkey, safety standards have failed to keep pace, leaving the country with one of the world's worst industrial accident records.

An initial report on the possible causes of the accident, cited by prosecutor Bekir Sahiner, indicated that the fire may have been triggered by coal heating up after making contact with the air, sending deadly carbon monoxide through the mine.

It was Turkey's worst mining accident, surpassing the death toll of a firedamp explosion that killed 263 miners in the Black Sea mining town of Zonguldak in 1992.

According to the prosecutor's dossier on the investigation, cited by the Radikal newspaper, it was not until 57 minutes after the fire broke out that the fire brigade was notified and another six minutes before ambulance services were contacted.

Radikal said gas masks used by the miners were effective for only 45 minutes.

The plant manager has denied negligence at the mine, which has been inspected by state officials every six months. Alp Gurkan, chair of parent company Soma Holding and father of the detained chief executive, said last week those responsible would be punished if an inquiry found evidence of negligence.

Thirty-six people gave statements to prosecutors over the accident, the prosecutor leading the case said late on Monday. Aside from the eight remanded in custody, the others suspects were released but could still face charges, court sources said.

- Reuters

Tags turkey

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...