Home » Death toll rises to 41 in Turkey coal mine explosion

Death toll rises to 41 in Turkey coal mine explosion

by Mahmmod Shar

Funerals for miners killed in a coal mine explosion in northern Turkey began Saturday as officials raised the death toll to at least 41 people.

Desperate relatives had waited all night in the cold outside the state-owned Turkish Hard Coal Enterprise’s mine in the town of Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin, hoping for news. There were 110 miners working several hundred meters below ground at the time of the explosion on Friday evening.

Their wait turned to devastation by Saturday noon. Women cried at the funeral of miner Selcuk Ayvaz, whose coffin was wrapped in the red and white Turkish flag.  

Relatives of missing miners gather in front of the state-owned TTK Amasra Muessese Mudurlugu mine in Amasra, in the Black Sea coastal province of Bartin, Turkey, Oct. 15, 2022. KHALIL HAMRA/AP

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived at the scene and said the body of one missing miner had been reached, confirming 41 were dead. Erdogan was flanked by officials, miners and rescuers, as he vowed to bring an end to mining disasters.

Erdogan said, “We don’t want to see flaws or unnecessary risks,” and he added that the blast’s perpetrators would be found through an investigation.

Five of the eleven hospitalized patients were in critical condition. Meanwhile, 58 other miners were either rescued unharmed or managed to escape the mine on their own.

Rescue efforts, according to Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, are almost finished. He had earlier stated that there was a fire raging in a location where more than a dozen trapped miners were. He stated that efforts to contain and cool the fire were ongoing.

Donmez said overnight that preliminary analyses suggested that the explosion was probably brought on by firedamp, a term for the flammable gases found in coal mines. Three prosecutors were looking into the explosion.


Rescue workers and relatives gather after a firedamp explosion at the mine quarry of the Turkish Hard Coal Institution Amasra Enterprise Directorate on Oct. 15, 2022.GETTY IMAGES EUROPE

A miner who works the day shift said he saw the news and hurried to the site to help with the rescue.

“We saw a frightful scene, it cannot be described, it’s very sad,” said Celal Kara, 40. “They’re all my friends … they all had dreams,” Kara, who has been a for 14 years, told The Associated Press after exiting the mine, his face covered in soot.

Ambulances were on standby at the site. Rescue teams were dispatched to the area, including from neighboring provinces, Turkey’s disaster management agency, AFAD, said. Dark smoke rose from the entrance of the mine, which is surrounded by forests.

A mining technician from TTK told broadcaster NTV that his team of rescue and occupational safety personnel arrived at the site Friday night. Ismail Cetin said they went down into the mine and walked about 2½ kilometers (1½ miles) with their kit and stretchers. They recovered nine bodies, whom he called “mine martyrs.”

Countries across the world offered their condolences to Turkey. Greece’s prime minister offered rescue assistance even though relations between the two neighbors have recently been particularly tense.

Separately, Turkish police said in a statement that legal action would be taken against 12 people who allegedly shared provocative content about the mine explosion to incite hate on social media.

Turkey’s worst mine disaster was in 2014, when 301 miners died after a fire erupted inside a coal mine in the town of Soma, in the west of the country. Five months later, 18 miners were killed in central Karaman province after a flood in a coal mine.

The head of DISK, a left-wing trade union, said in a statement they were “sad and angry” because deaths were preventable and the union’s safety suggestions were ignored. Even though more inspections were mandated after the Soma tragedy, DISK’s leader Arzu Cerkezoglu claimed some precautions were ignored for profitability, calling Friday’s explosion a “massacre.”


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