Turkey coal mine explosion: Officials deny negligence as mine operator admits there was no rescue chamber
The Soma mine chairman said if the accident had happened three to four months later, rescue chambers would have been ready
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Friday 16 May 2014
The final death toll from the Turkey coal mine explosion is expected to reach 300, officials have admitted the main rescue chamber had been “disassembled” and miners are still trapped underground, but officials are continuing to deny any negligence over the country's worst mining disaster in history.
Some 284 miners are known to have died in the Soma mine and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has announced he believes there are “no more than 18” still trapped underground.
In a news conference today, the mine owners defended their response to the disaster and denied all claims of negligence, while conceding they still had no idea how the tragedy occurred.
Officials at the conference said there was no working refuge chamber in the mine, but stressed there had been an escape route close to ground level, giving workers an exit to leave from without having to walk 300 metres to the entrance.
Soma Holding Chairman Alp Gurkan told the conference that when the facility was first established, the main refuge room could hold 500 people, but this was closed when production finished in that part of the mine.
"We disassembled the rescue chamber here because the production had stopped. We didn't need a chamber in this area, our production was in the lower levels," he explained.
Preparations were underway to build refuge rooms in a deeper part of the mine, where work had been moved to.
He said they had taken all precautions and measures required in mines by law and claimed work was underway on building a new rescue chamber. "If this accident had taken place three or four months later, we would have had production here and we would have had a rescue chamber here," he told the press conference.
Mr Gurkan said he was in a "terrible state" over the tragedy, but insisted they were not obliged to have a working rescue chamber by law. “I am in severe pain. People who know me would understand,” he added.
The news comes as the main operator of the mine insisted the fire was not linked to the sub-station, and was instead the product of a build-up of heat.
Ramazan Dogru, the general manager of the mine, rejected initial reports that claimed the fire was caused by an explosion at a power distribution unit.
"It was an unbelievable accident in a place where there have been very few accidents in 30 years," Mr Gurkan said. "A mine with top level miners, accepted as being the most trustworthy and organised."
Official experts will go down and inspect the mine once all of the bodies have been recovered, and they will then provide a report on how the tragedy occurred, officials said.
"We still do not know how the accident happened. There is no negligence of ours in this incident. We all worked heart and soul," said Akin Celik, the plant manager of the mine.
The company said a total of 787 workers had been in the mine at the time, of which 122 had been hospitalised and a further 363 evacuated.
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 4 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Nazi gold train: 'Significant' discovery made in Poland
Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Carol Vorderman reveals she is 'covered in burns' after she fell off her treadmill while running naked
TTIP controversy: The European Commission and Big Tobacco accused of cover-up after heavily redacted documents released
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...