Thousands Demonstrate in Turkey over Soma Mine Accident

World | May 16, 2014, Friday // 09:24|  views

Turkish police use tear gas to disperse protesters over the Soma mine accident. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Thousands flocked to the streets in Turkey to protest over the explosion in a coal mine near Soma which took the lives of at least 283 people.

In Izmir, located near Soma and also Turkey's third-largest city, around 20 000 citizens demonstrated against working conditions worsening in mines after these were leased by Ankara to private firms. Police had to use tear gas and water cannon to disperse participants.

Izmir's rally was part of a 24-hour strike called by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions.

Their representatives expressed anger at poor safety standards and "brutal production processes" in the facilities which, as they wrote in a statement, resulted in "worker brothers in Soma" having been "left to die from the very start".

Istanbul also saw protests which were nevertheless peaceful, with some demonstrators holding banners which pointed the blame for the accident at the AKP-led government.

Similar events were held in the southern city of Mersin and Antalya, as well as in the capital Ankara, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Officials of Soma Komur Ismetleri AS, the company running the mine, say 450 people have been rescued.

At least 80 are injured.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a thorough investigation of the accident.

Government representatives have asserted five technical inspections have been conducted in the mine since 2012 and that the latest was in March this year.

Tuesday's accident near Soma became Turkey's worst mining disaster, with a death toll surpassing that of a  gas explosion in 1992 which killed 263 people near Zonguldak, Black Sea port.

The opposition recently proposed amendments in legislation providing safety in mines, but Turkish media report it was rejected by the government.

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Tags: Soma, explosion, turkey, mine, explosion, Zonguldak, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions, Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir


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