Serious mine accident in Turkey
Istanbul Another deadly mining accident has shaken Turkey: at least 40 miners have died there after a serious explosion in a coal mine.
One is still missing, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told journalists at the site of the state-run mine in Bartin province on the Black Sea on Saturday. Eleven others suffered injuries in the explosion at a depth of about 300 meters. 58 miners were rescued, Soylu said. According to him, there were 110 miners in the mine at around 6:15 p.m. (local time) on Friday evening when the explosion occurred.
president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and leading representatives of the opposition parties were expected to visit the mine, located about 300 kilometers northeast of the capital Ankara, over the course of Saturday. Energy Minister Fatih Donmez had to hold back tears when he said at the scene of the accident that a worker was still missing. He had visited the “brothers” three weeks earlier, he added in a video distributed on Twitter.
Dönmez had previously explained that mine gas had probably exploded. The exact cause was still unclear. Smoke rose from the mine on Saturday. It is assumed that it will continue to burn, reported the TV station NTV.
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“Everything collapsed with a huge explosion, I was just able to escape,” miner Aydin Kalayci of the private news agency Demirören described the dramatic moments in the mine. “We were dragging the dead bodies of our colleagues,” said another worker, his face blackened by the smoke.
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TV cameras also showed a rescued miner late Friday night who refused to be taken to hospital. “Leave me, I’m fine, I want to go back,” he said and after a short treatment joined the rescue teams, as recordings by the HaberTürk broadcaster showed. Some of the seriously injured were taken to hospitals in Istanbul and Ankara, state media reported. TV channels also showed some concerned family members of the workers crying outside the hospital in Bartin, some 15 kilometers from the mine.
The mine is one of five state-operated coal mines in the United States Turkey – next to a number of privately owned mines. There have been several serious mine accidents in the country in recent years, partly due to poor safety regulations. In 2014, an explosion at a coal mine in Manisa province in the Aegean region killed a total of 301 people.
The main opposition party, the Social Democrat CHP, said the authorities had ignored a 2019 report by the Court of Auditors warning of a risk of a mine gas explosion at the mine.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had recently exchanged harsh blows with Erdogan over various political differences, tweeted his condolences. “Sad to hear about the horrific mine explosion and loss of life in Bartin province in Türkiye. Greece stands ready to send aid immediately to help find survivors.” The heads of state of Azerbaijan and Pakistan also expressed their condolences.
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